In order to show solidarity with federal employees who will be impacted the most by sequestration, a White House official announced President Obama’s plan to give back five percent — roughly $20,000 — of his annual salary back to the U.S. Treasury. This announcement follows word from the Pentagon that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter will do the same.
“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,” the official said.
The White House and the president have come under immense scrutiny from political opponents who focus on the fact that while debates over the “fiscal cliff” and sequestration heated up, President Obama and his family took luxurious vacations. This gesture by the president is not likely to slow down the criticism, but public perception will be worth noting.
Several offices under President Obama have received furlough notices, including 480 employees in the Office of Management and Budget. Additional furloughs and pay cuts remain on the table as a possibility, but whether or not either will be needed has not been announced.
What also remains uncertain is how many top level officials in the Obama administration will follow suit in the symbolic gesture. Word has not been released on Vice President Joe Biden’s intentions, but the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have said their heads will not give back any pay because none of their employees have been furloughed.