In nod to furloughs, Obama to return 5 percent
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in solidarity with federal workers who are going to be furloughed as part of the automatic budget cuts known as sequester, an administration official said Wednesday.
The voluntary move would be retroactive to March 1, the official said, and will apply through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September. The White House came up with the 5 percent figure to approximate the level of spending cuts to non-defense federal agencies that took effect that day.
“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.
Word of the president’s decision came a day after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter disclosed that they would return a share of their salaries commensurate with the pay lost by the department’s civilian employees who are expected to be furloughed for 14 days.
The president makes $400,000 a year, so a pay cut of 5 percent for the whole year amounts to $20,000; an administration official said Obama would pay back that amount, compressing the total over the remaining months of the fiscal year. The president’s salary is set by law and cannot be changed during his term, so he will write a check to the government starting this month, the official said.
Obama and his wife, Michelle, reported adjusted gross income of $789,674 in 2011, the last year such figures were publicly available. Much of the additional money came from royalties from his books. The Obamas donated $172,130, or nearly 22 percent of their adjusted gross income, to charity. Obama gives after-tax proceeds from his children’s book to a scholarship fund for children of slain and disabled soldiers.