Barack Obama Will Return Five Percent of Salary Due to Sequestration

Obama’s refund to the Treasury will amount to $20,000 in salary over the rest of the year.

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Evan Vucci / AP

President Barack Obama during the fiscal cliff negotiations in the briefing room of the White House on Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, in Washington.

President Barack Obama will voluntarily return 5 percent of his $400,000 salary to the United States Treasury, a White House official confirmed Wednesday. The move, first reported by the New York Times, is in solidarity with federal employees who are seeing pay cuts or furloughs as a result of sequestration.

Under Article II, Section I of the United States Constitution, no sitting president’s salary may be altered while he or she is in office. Obama’s decision is in response to lawmakers failing to reach an agreement to keep the mandatory spending cuts from kicking in last month.

“The salary for the President, as with Members of Congress, is set by law and cannot be changed,” a White House official said in a statement. “However, 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.”

Like many of his civilian colleagues at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a pay cut equal to 14 furlough days. Obama’s refund to the Treasury will amount to $20,000 a White House official confirmed. Consistent with the across-the-board spending cuts being compressed into a shorter portion of the year as in the sequester, Obama’s payments will amount to more than 5 percent of his salary in every pay period through the end of the year.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Obama was refunding salary retroactive to March 1. In fact, a White House official clarified that Obama will return 5 percent of his total annual salary for the entire year.

466 comments
BrianCh16
BrianCh16

Symbolism over substance --- 5% less won't harm his lifestyle in the slightest.

On the other hand, I rather like the idea of the president and congress each getting substantial paycuts when they fail to come up with a balanced budget.   

DanToste
DanToste

Beleive me he will not lose a dime because he truthfully he will only be giving 5% of the kick backs he privately receives from the mega corporations that fund his radical dreams of domination of the U.S. his agenda will haunt him now till the end of his day's.

SANDYDEPEAUX
SANDYDEPEAUX

Symbolic at best.  It would be better if he cut back on his expenses.  He is forever in a campaign mode.

Michael Bowden
Michael Bowden

Wow, TIME magizine is ogling over Barack Obama! He's trying to make a good image for himself. This doesn't impress me TIME!

dedicated_civilservant
dedicated_civilservant

How about Obama give up 20% of his pay.  We are going to lose 20% of our pay during the furloughs.  Can you relate to giving up 20% of your pay and continue to pay the same bills you currently pay with 100% of your pay?  Our family will lose 20% from mine and my spouses pay becasue we are both government employees.  Now that is truly 20% of your household income for several months.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

What a pathetic joke.  So Obama donates $20K back to the treasury - when if he would simply cut one hour of Air Force One flying time instead, he would save taxpayers over $184,000 for the costs of operating the plane alone.  Eliminate a single vacation out of the many he takes, and it would save over a million dollars.  Had he not take his long golf weekend with Tiger Woods, it would have saved over 341 furloughed workers.  Or his latest Hawaiian vacation, that would have saved over $7 million.  But golly gee, he'll sacrifice $20K, which I'm sure he'll really notice when he's worth millions already - and what do you want to bet he'll claim a tax write off for his little donation too, so it will really be a third less than publicized?  What a swell guy!! (do I really need to add the "/sarc" tag?)

Joseph Gillen
Joseph Gillen

too funny look at the middle fugures 16, 666 67 HE was on the BIBLE with his HOODIE!

who_says
who_says

@TIME @TIMESwampland Good on you Obama for returning part of your salary BUT what were you thinking on the Monsanto bill??

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@dedicated_civilservant   I feel for anyone taking that sort of unexpected pay cut.  No question it hurts, and can even do serious damage.

That said, I have to point out that the average civil servant earns far more than 20% higher salaries for the same sort of work as those in the private sector in comparable jobs...

StanHalbert
StanHalbert

@Rational_Db8 Are you saying that the Pres. , with all of the stresses of his job, doesn't deserve some stress relief, (keeping in mind the the Pres. is NEVER really "off the job"?  After you answer that question, compare his vacation time to that of his predecessor (who'll remain nameless).

drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8 

Oh, and you really lose all credibility when you spin yarn regarding "$7,000,000 Hawaiian vacations."

Let me guess? You don't like either Obama or Tiger because they are...

Maybe you should look in the GOP's mirror and ask whether "no new taxes" isn't the "real reason" those workers got their hours cut? Truth hurts.

drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8 

What needs to be more "publicized" is the fact the Iraq war will actually cost $4trillion, i.e., as opposed to Bush/Wolfowitz expressly lying about how "oil revenues will pay for the Iraq war"

But please. Keep up the feigned "outrage" over our POTUS leading by example. Nice diversion!

drudown
drudown

@PatriotJackiB @BigJohnandAmy 

You must be referring to the Corporate giveaways from the GOP to the Big Farming regarding Genetically Engineered Foods? Or are you referring to creating a more malleable, Hispanic voting bloc via Rand Paul's "amnesty" plan?  Or are you referring to the "missing" billions in Iraq. Please be more specific.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@who_says@TIME@TIMESwampland 

I'd like to see Obama match Mitt Romney, rather than a paltry 5%.  Or better yet, save us millions by taking a few less vacations to exotic locations.

</i>"*Romney worked for Bain Consulting, left the company in 1984 to become head of independent Bain Capital, then was wooed back in 1990 or so for a 2-year stint to overhaul and save the now-in-trouble consulting firm. He did so. For a salary of $1 – then went back to Bain Capital.


*Romney was asked to become head of the Olympic Games committee for the 2002 Olympics, famously in debt and in scandal, about 1999. He served 3+ years. He did so for a yearly salary of $1. Then he left. He gave over a million dollars of his own money to the Olympics effort.


*Romney was asked to run for Governor of MA, a state in terrible fiscal trouble and hemorrhaging jobs. He was elected and served as Governor for a 4-year term, from 2003-2007. He served for a yearly salary of $1. Balanced the budget each year and closed a budget gap of $3 billion, and left a $2 billion rainy day fund. Then he left. "<i>

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

Why do you so conveniently omit the Democratic party?  If you're going to ask the GOP, it's only fair to ask the Democratic Party too.  Except apparently in Dru World.

StanHalbert
StanHalbert

@Rational_Db8 @dedicated_civilservant I disagree.  In my experience, civil servants usually earn LESS than comparable private sector jobs, which is one reason why  civil service jobs usually have much better benefit packages, in an attempt to partially compensate for the lower gross compensation.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@StanHalbert @Rational_Db8   Don't be silly, of course I'm not saying the president doesn't deserve a reasonable amount of vacation.  I'm also well aware of Bush's vacation time - but comparing his vacations to Obama's is comparing apples to, well, rocks or something.  Oranges would be too close to apples to be an applicable analogy.  Bush took the vast majority of his vacation time at either his own ranch, which was totally set up for him to work as president, and was remote and easily and relatively cheaply securable without disrupting many other people's lives, or at Camp David which has similar benefits.  Obama goes to exotic expensive locations that are difficult and very costly to secure and are not in any way suitable to function as a control center away from the White House.  The Obama's also frequently travel separately, and even at least once flew Bo, the dog, to vacation on a plane of his own.  Air Force One costs $184,000 per HOUR to operate, and the country is in a horrible economic position, and the Obama's can't even fly together, they have to go a few hours apart?  It's been estimated that over $1.4 billion was spent kow-towing to the Obama's last year alone - are you really going to argue that is in any way reasonable?  We're seeing an imperial presidency, with a gross amount of hard earned tax dollars wasted pampering and protecting them - and they project very much a "let them eat cake" attitude.  Obama has spent more time on the golf course than he has involved in any economic related activities, briefings, meetings, etc.  Then there's all his time on the basketball court, lavish parties at the WH, vacations to Spain, Hawaii, Broadway, Bahama's, etc., etc.  Separate vacations for the girls, when the vast majority of American kids could never afford such trips, and their parents would never allow them to go on such trips without accompanying them.  All of this behavior and gross lack of concern for appearances and costs has gotten to be obscene.  

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudownAh, yes, why am I not the least bit surprised that unable to provide any reasonable argument to support your own position, you default to the race card?  Sorry, it's been declined.


I don't know if Time's allows active links, so replace the "(dot)" with a period:

<b>Barack Obama’s $7 million Hawaii vacation is an insult to America’s struggling middle class</b>

blogs.telegraph(dot)co(dot)uk/news/nilegardiner/100196479/barack-obamas-7-million-hawaii-vacation-is-an-insult-to-americas-struggling-middle-class/


Your "no new taxes" bit is similarly ludicrous.  Obama has gotten multiple multibillion dollar tax increases.  Furthermore, the sequester is a piddling 2.5% budget <b>increase reduction</b>.  The government will still spend MORE, not less, after the sequester.  The sequester is simply a very minor reduction in the planned spending increase - it isn't any actual cut.  In 2007 our annual federal spending was approx. $2.5 Trillion, now it's over $3.5 Trillion, and yet in 2007 we had no problems conducting White House tours, paying for meat inspectors, keeping all our flight control towers opened, etc. 


Truth does hurt - problem is, you don't seem to have a clue what the truth really is.  So wake up and join the real world.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown @Rational_Db8 The Iraq war during Bush's terms cost less than $1 trillion.  Citation please for Bush/Worlowitz claiming oil revenues will pay for the Iraq war.  Also explain to me how congressional Democrats and liberals in general supported requiring Iraq to cover some of the war costs with oil revenues.  Or, gee, did they block any such attempts while screaming to high heaven that we supposedly only went to war to steal Iraq's oil?  

 I'm expressing no feigned outrage over Obama leading by example - I'm expressing real outrage at his utter unwillingness and inability to lead at anything - except photo opportunities, teleprompter speeches, and profligate waste of taxpayer money.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown @BigJohnandAmy Like democrats don't heavily support and vote for farm subsidies?  And Democrats aren't the ones who primarily push for illegal alien amnesty - I guess they don't expect any more Dem voters from it tho, huh?  Even Jay Leno just got done saying that the AP eliminated the term "illegal immigrant" and replaced it with "undocumented democrat voter."  And I guess you missed that virtually all of the top Dems in congress voted in favor of and were pushing strongly for the Iraq war.  I suppose you also missed the "green" failures such as Solyndra, or the fact that we spend more than $7 Billion a year on Head Start - which has been found by several major studies to be worthless, yet Obama has been pushing hard to expand it and mandate universal per-kindergarten.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown    I just have to add that it is pretty telling that you automatically assume that Obama's donation represents only the Democratic Party - and that GOP complaints are merely party politics for political points, rather than genuine concern over Obama's flagrant spending and our current economic situation.


Last I checked, the office of the President of the United States represents the entire nation first, and his party a clear second.  Which means his donation represents the GOP every bit as much as the Dems.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown@Rational_Db8 Conspicuously, the President of the United States who is supposed to represent all Americans regardless of party, has been flagrantly flying around at a cost of over $184,000 per hour (including spending a million dollars to fly to Colorado, give a single gun control speech and fly back) and has been taking multiple multi-million dollar vacations, all while insisting that the sequester cuts be applied in the most painful and public way possible.  Then he donates all of $20,000, which is roughly 2% of his income and is NOTHING compared to what he's costing taxpayers.  Estimated at $1.4 billion for him and his family last year alone.  

Meanwhile, there are some here castigating him because their family is having to take a 20% cut - but they're not the figurehead of the GOP, are they? 

Your response?  Why isn't the GOP donating the same as Obama?  Gawd forbid that they did, considering that the same as Obama means running up multimillion dollar vacations on the tax payer dime and all.  Note, you didn't even ask "why isn't the figurehead of the GOP doing the same" nope, you roped in the entire GOP, and entirely omitted the entire Democratic party.  

So I'll ask again, what's with the blatant bias on your part?  And why the heck is anyone supposed to be impressed when Obama volunteer a pittance while ensuring many others are given loads of pain, and he's unwilling to even omit his weekend with Tiger Woods, which would have saved 341 furloughed workers right there.  But you think $20,000 is an admirable gesture??


drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8

Conspicuously, here the figurehead of the democratic party has voluntarily given back part of his salary. In response to unfounded GOP criticism that it should "really be 20%",  I ask "why not ask the same of the GOP." 

If you are going to impugn my positions, at least be intellectually honest. 

Ps Dru World?

"Don't tempt me Frodo."

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@StanHalbert @Rational_Db8 @dedicated_civilservant   Stan, that study isn't even released yet, nor are it's conclusions.  The article is ASSUMING what it will show.  Plus, it notes that one report by an advisory group including union leaders which it suspects will say civil servant salaries are lower - but it also cites multiple other studies which all conclude at civil servants are paid more than comparable private jobs - and the single one they suspect will show the opposite doesn't even include benefits, which are massively larger for civil servants than the private sector.  Sorry, no cookie.

Bakersm
Bakersm

@StanHalbert @Rational_Db8 @dedicated_civilservant I work embedded with Navy personnel as part of the BRAC initiative. Last estimates the return on investment for having us work in our position is  for every $1 the Navy is saving $26. Being a WG-10 step 5 I take home less than a E-5 collecting BAH, and I am held accountable for what they do.


Now I loose 20% of my pay, PTS (Navy's attempt at downsizing) has cut our shop from 30 sailors to less than 10 come June and my workload is going to increase exponentially when our counterparts on the East Coast are going to be shutdown and there work will be sent to us. 


Now Obama is going to send back 5% of his pay. What about his expense account? I wish I had one of those. He's not even matching what is being TAKEN from us. No one should be impressed by this mockery of "solidarity." Keep your 5% because it is just insulting...

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@StanHalbert@Rational_Db8@dedicated_civilservant  Sorry, Stan, while that was true many many years ago, it hasn't been for a long time.  That's been shown time and again by many different sources.  See, for example (replace the "(dot)" with a period of course):  usatoday30.usatoday(dot)com/money/economy/income/2010-08-10-1Afedpay10_ST_N.htm

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@Gizzmo  What is that, the "liar liar, pants on fire" defense?  How about you try actually making an argument like an adult.  Show where anything I've said is twisted or a lie or even a distraction by changing the subject.  I've replied directly to points that were made, and provided facts and often supporting references.  Let's see you try the same, rather than throwing out specious defamatory claims.  

Gizzmo
Gizzmo

@Rational_Db8  Everything you claim is a lie. A twist of a fact or changing the subject of a fact so to suit a party position doesn't make you points true it makes them a lie...It makes you a spreader of lies...and that makes you a puppet liar for a political party. Obama could discover the cure for cancer and you would find a wrong in that... Grow up.


Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown   Apparently you are ignorant of the fact that Obama is the one who originally proposed and pushed the sequester plan as it is.  

 You are also apparently ignorant of the fact that over two months ago the Republicans offered Obama complete control over where those cuts were made so they were not in any way arbitrary.  Obama said he would veto any such bill.  

You're also apparently ignorant of the fact that each cabinet department has always been able to present bills to congress asking to be allowed to distribute the cuts differently within their department.  Almost none have chosen to do so.

Clearly you are also unaware that Democrats forced a 30% increase in spending over the past few years - resulting in unheard of astronomical deficits over $1.3 trillion each year of Obama's reign, and yet you whine that it's the GOP abdicating any sense of fiduciary duty?  

Try learning some of the basics would you?

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown  Oh, and your bit about a supposed strawman re severity of sequester cuts.  You are the one who claimed the sequester cuts were big cut requiring increased taxes in another post, and then in this post that the problem was the GOP being unwilling to increase taxes.  So what if I pulled the issues together in addressing your fallacies?  Perhaps you need to look up the definition of a strawman.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown  Excuse me, but fiscal prudence isn't raising our spending by 30% in two years, then jacking up taxes, which still wouldn't cover that kind of gross spending.  Fiscal prudence is cutting spending back to reasonable levels, in line with historic averages instead of only comparable to WWII.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown     Bwhaaaa-haaa-haaa-haa!!  Thinkprogress as a citation supposedly providing proof?  Can you find a more biased site?  And eventhere, all your link says is that Wolfowitz told a congressional panel that Iraq oil COULD help pay the costs of reconstruction. None of them ever claimed it WOULD.  Do you even know the difference between proposing one possible solution among many, versus making a promise that something actually will happen?  No, apparently you don't.

drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8

Ps. taken to its illogical conclusion, your "criticism" aptly reflects the feeble GOP plan: force the Sequester cuts and then whine about what was arbitrarily cut, as if, in the end, it is at President Obama's caprice. Is that the 'real world' you talk about? You know, the one where the GOP abdicates any sense of Fiduciary Duty to the People.

drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8

Listen to you. You cry about the debt, but refuse to raise revenue to meet our obligations. How is that fiscal prudence? It isn't.

Next, you start arguing against a straw man regarding the "severity" of the Sequester cuts. Why is that? 

As for your petty insults, stop wasting my time. 

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown   Yet again you provide a link to what is just about the most liberally biased site out there, well known for promoting bogus liberal talking points, to supposedly support your claims.  Yet the very link you provide doesn't even begin to support your claim.  It says NOTHING about even a trillion dollars, let alone $4T, and yet again, it merely said that oil COULD be used to cover costs - no promise was made that it would be used.  You really need to work on your reading comprehension.  Besides, I can just imagine how you'd be screaming if we had decided to insist that Iraq cover any significant amount of rebuilding.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown so you are entirely unable to support your own bogus claim.  Again, I'm not surprised.  Don't make a claim then when someone calls you on it, try to put it off on them.  I know the bogus logic and where your false number comes from - you either don't know yourself, or you are unwilling to provide a source that's open to being torn to bits because it's an absurd piece of liberal spin.

Rational_Db8
Rational_Db8

@drudown@Rational_Db8@BigJohnandAmyPathetic.  The Bush tax cuts resulted in the largest increase in federal revenues in recent history.  2007 was the record for the largest federal revenues ever.  There was no cut in our annual budget from the tax cuts - see annual federal outlays by year from 2001 to 2008 at taxpolicycenter(dot)org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=200  

In 2001 federal outlays were $1.863 trillion, by 2008 it was up to $2.983 trillion. In other words, our budget increased by a trillion dollars by the end of Bush's terms - never decreased by a third.  Perhaps you meant Bush decreased REVENUES by a third, but yet again, you're grossly incorrect, as can also be seen at that same site.


There are NO tax breaks for companies that outsource jobs.  There also are no tax breaks for companies that off-shore jobs, which is what I suspect you meant to refer to.


Bush never misrepresented the WMD threat - ever major nation's intelligence agencies at the time believed that Saddam had WMD stockpiles. Ever member of congress had access to all of the intelligence that Bush did, and the majority, including all major Dems, agreed with him.  The no-bid contracts weren't any different than those that had historically occurred before the war and under Clinton.  You want to talk crony capitalism thought, just take a look at Obama's stimulus bills.

Nor did Bush and the GOP or any deregulation cause the wall street meltdown.  By the time Glass-Steagle was repealed, it was widely agreed that it no longer was effective anyhow.  The crash started with the housing market subprime mortgages.  That can be laid at the feet of the Democrats.  Clinton signed into law the Affordable Housing Act, and Obama was the godfather, being the attorney on the first major anti-redlining lawsuit that forced banks to provide subprime loans to people they felt weren't qualified for housing loans.  Bush and Repubs began repeatedly warning of the risks on the congressional floor at least as early as 2003, and were ridiculed and totally blocked by the Dems from taking any action. 


But it's clear that all you're able to do is spew liberal/Democrat talking points - either because you really are that ignorant, or because you're a paid shill.

drudown
drudown

@Rational_Db8 @drudown @BigJohnandAmy 

Spare me the "revisionist" history.

FACT: Bush exponentially GREW the size and INCREASED spending...while cutting nearly a third of our annual budget via the Bush Tax Cuts. 

FACT: Bush (and his Trade Tzar Portman) gave tax breaks to companies that "outsourced" US jobs...thereby exacerbating the Welfare state you purport to loathe.

FACT: Bush materially misrepresented the WMD threat from Saddam...thereby giving GOP campaign contributors f billions and billions in no-bid contracts.

FACT: Bush and the GOP Congress pushed to "deregulate" Wall St...thereby leading to the Wall St meltdown requiring massive Government bailouts and increasing the deficit. 

So...feel free to run from the facts...but 

res ipsa loquitur.