So the news today is that President Obama has cut his own salary by about $20,000 (5% of his salary of $400,000 annually) in solidarity with the rest of the federal employees whose paychecks are shrinking as a result of sequestration.
First, $20,000 is nothing to sneeze at. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an extra 20K just sitting here looking at me. But will it make an impact upon the President’s standard of living? Nah. That’s the cost of one European vacation for the Obamas. I’m not even bemoaning their vacations or their elite lifestyle. The Bush family, the Clintons, the Reagans….They were all rich and did what rich people do, just like the Obamas.
Rather, I want to take the opportunity to focus upon what I hope will result from his pay cut—draw attention to the folks for whom the sequester will actually be painful. Folks like most of of the people who are reading this post. And particularly for people in the lowest 10% of the economy.
In a fascinating interview on NPR’s Tell Me More, Michel Martin dives into the ways in which the sequestration is already actively hurting folks in the Indian Nation. Listen to the fantastic interview here, where she and her guests, representatives from Indian nations, explain the ways in which the “trickle down” effect of cuts hurts the very poorest people—and their children—first.
In fact, points out Martin, one school system in Montana had 5 students commit suicide in one year, and 20 more students make suicide attempts. The school desperately needed more counselors, but because they were facing the cuts as a result of sequestration, they knew they could not hire any mental health professionals for their children, who so desperately need that support.
So we turn it to you, readers: How will the sequester hurt you and your family? Who do you feel will be most affected by the massive cuts that are already being rolled out?
Is this “business as usual” for politics today, or is this sequester a wake-up call for Americans?
In what ways can we, as average citizens, be of support to those who are most affected by sequestration?
And, finally, does the President’s voluntary $20,000 pay cut matter to you?
AP Photo: J. Scott Applewhite