In a measure of solidarity with those affected by the budget-slashing government sequestration, President Obama is giving up 5 percent of his salary for rest of the year, which is almost as admirable and sensible as a mansion-owner shutting off his marble fountains during a drought.
This is not to imply that the president shouldn't demonstrate some unity with those who've been furloughed or lost work because of the blind slashing the sequestration prompted. People like Jeff Maryak, profiled by BuzzFeed, who is considering re-enlisting to make ends meet after a 27 percent pay cut. People like those who've lost access to critical public services as government employees have been told to stay at home. Obama should certainly show that he understands how the cuts — which he signed into law — are hurting people across the country.
But a 5 percent pay cut is stupid. The New York Times reports that the amount was meant to "approximate the level of automatic spending cuts to non-defense federal agencies that took effect" at the beginning of March. (Obama's pay cut is retroactive to that date and runs through the end of the year, so he's forgoing 4.2 percent of his 2013.) For Obama, who makes a federally mandated $400,000 a year, he's losing $16,667 this year. For a worker earning minimum wage, Obama's pay cut is $1,500 more than they'll earn this year.