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April 03, 2013

Obama to give up 5 percent of salary to show sequester solidarity

President Obama will give up 5 percent of his annual salary in a show of solidarity with federal workers affected by the sequester, the White House says.

"The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government that are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury," press Secretary Jay Carney said, adding that Obama told staff he wanted to do it "when the sequester took effect."

Obama's $400,000 salary -- as that of members of Congress -- is set by law and cannot be changed, a White House aide said. But Obama will contribute 5 percent of his full annual salary – the same sequester-imposed percentage cut that non-exempt, non-defense discretionary funding is subject to. Obama will write a check to the Treasury every month. The move will be effective as of March 1, but he will write the first check this month.  

The Republican National Committee mocked the move, saying, "Don't worry about that whole budget thing taxpayers, Obama is giving back 5 percent ($20k per year) of his salary to Treasury." The email from the RNC noted that as the White House was announcing the give back, Obama was aboard Air Force One "to take a $180k per HOUR ride to fundraise with the same fat cat millionaires and billionaires he campaigned against."

The federal spending cuts -- known in Washington as sequester -- kicked into effect on March 1 after Obama and congressional leaders failed to bridge a fundamental disagreement over spending and taxes.

The administration has warned that the $85 billion slice in federal spending cuts were supposed to be so onerous that lawmakers wouldn't want them to take effect and warned they'd cause delays in air traffic, prompt teacher layoffs and hamper food inspections. Some agencies have reported employee furloughs, but critics have accused the White House of overstating the effects.

Obama joins Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who earlier pledged to give part of their salaries back to the Treasury as a sign of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees who are expected to be furloughed four work days later this year.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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