Op-Ed: Obama’s gesture nice, but not enough

President Obama announced Wednesday that he would give up 5 percent of his annual salary to show “solidarity” with other federal employees facing furloughs because of the sequester.  However, when your boss makes five times as much as you (his annual salary is $400,000, the average federal employee’s is estimated around $75,000), it doesn’t exactly seem like he’s “giving up” anything.

So let’s take it a step further: what if we reduced ALL federal executives’ salaries to the annual salary of the average United States federal employee?  Again, this is $75,000.

That’s $75,000 for everyone.  All 535 members of Congress, all 22 Cabinet-level officers in the President’s office, even President Obama and Vice-President Biden.

The average annual salary of a plain member of Congress is $174,000 according to the Congressional Research Service’s January report: “Congressional Salaries and Allowances”.  Not to mention the $223,000 for the Speaker of the House.  The leaders of the majority and minority in both the House and Senate, along with the President pro tempore earn $193,000. The President earns $400,000, the Vice-President $230,700, and Cabinet-level members (there are 22) receive $199,700.

So how much will that save the taxpayers of the United States?

After doing the math, the grand total of savings would equal $56,432,100 annually.

That’s more than $55 million.  Fifty-five million dollars that could be helping save some of the one million jobs that will be lost according to the BipartisanPolicyCenter’s report on the sequester.

Granted, it’s less than 1 percent of what the sequester cuts intend to save (roughly $85 billion), but it’s hard to believe that if simple cuts like these were made across the board, there would be a lot less talk of firing already underpaid teachers and reducing the number of senior citizens who get to eat.

As a native of Port Orchard, Wash., it’s difficult to look around and see any families that won’t be affected by the loss in pay for federal employees.  Most of the city works at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. My dad works and the NavalUnderseaWarfareCenter in Keyport, and has never held another job since graduating college 27 years ago.

Let’s also keep in mind that these cuts were the Obama administration’s idea in the frist place.  They were meant as motivation for Congress to figure out the budget, but so far it has not been effective enough.  Probably because we haven’t threatened Congress’ jobs yet.

So yes, President Obama’s gesture is nice.  It lets us know that presidents are people too, and they are capable of being empathetic.  But excuse me for not feeling sorry for him losing $20,000 living rent-free, while my family, and many of my friends’ families, discuss downsizing.



Categories: Opinion

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