“Show of solidarity.”
“Gives back … in support.”
Or simply, “a budget gesture.”
Those are excerpts of three headlines circulating on Thursday after U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would kick back 5 percent of his $400,000 salary to the U.S. Treasury to express solidarity with public employees facing furloughs due to budget cuts.
This is what an anonymous administration official told the New York Times: “The president has decided that to share in the sacrifice being made by public servants across the federal government who are affected by the sequester, he will contribute a portion of his salary back to the Treasury.”
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That amounts to $20,000 of his base public salary. The Obamas earned an additional $389,674 in adjusted gross income last year, according to public records, largely from book-sale proceeds. Together, Barack and Michelle donated 22 percent of that to charity, or $172,130, the Times said.
But don’t worry.
The family’s estimated net worth is $11.8 million, according to an analysis of public records by celebritynetworth.com, which tracks these sorts of things.
The Obamas’ wealth has ballooned since the president’s keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. The First Household’s income peaked in 2009 at $5.5 million -- up from the $60,000 a year Barack Obama earned as an Illinois state senator. Michelle was the main breadwinner at that time, pulling in $320,000 a year as a vice president of University of Chicago Hospitals. In all, the Obamas earned $18.6 million between 2000 and 2011 -- which should help put the president’s “show of solidarity” into perspective.
In related news: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is also a millionaire and was earning nearly $3 million a year while serving as a Republican senator from Nebraska, said earlier this week that he too would be cut his salary in support of the estimated 700,000 Defense Department employees facing sequestration furloughs.