President Obama’s decision to give up 5 percent of his salary for the rest of the fiscal year [“Obama to take pay cut to draw attention to plight of federal workers facing furloughs,” news story, April 4], in some supposed effort to show solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are being furloughed without pay, is wrongheaded and insulting.
Mr. Obama has presided over budgets that have frozen federal employees’ salaries for three straight years, shifted massive retirement costs onto the backs of employees and could continue employee furloughs for the next decade. He is dangling the prospect of Social Security benefit cuts in front of his political adversaries, once again trying to appease them by sacrificing the well-being of working people.
Mr. Obama should not drag himself down as he drags down the living standards of other federal employees. Instead, he should be trying to lift all of us up. Solidarity is not about impoverishing the 99 percent so that the 1 percent and big corporations can continue to avoid paying the proper amount in taxes. Solidarity is about adhering to principles about shared prosperity, about working to improve, not worsen, our economic security.
Agency after agency is admitting that the furloughs were just a political ploy to try to get sequestration canceled. They are acknowledging that when agency mission is truly the top priority, furloughing federal employees will be the last resort, rather than the first.
Mr. Obama should keep his salary whole. And let us do the same.
J. David Cox Sr., Washington
The writer is president of the American Federation of Government Employees.