Some of President Reagan's top appointees may take a double blow to the wallet when the departments they run begin furloughing workers because of their leader's budget cuts.
A number of federal operations are planning to put rank-and-file workers, managers and top bosses on furlough one or two days a week to save money. Some of the furloughs will begin as early as March.
But there is both a legal and a public relations problem when it comes to furloughing presidential appointees.
On the PR front, most will be expected to take their time in the furlough trenches with their unpaid troops. It wouldn't look good if they kept coming to work in chauffeur-driven cars while their employes are told to take a pay cut and stay home.
The legal problem stems from the fact that presidential appointees get annual salaries. They are considered on duty 24 hours a day, and cannot be legally docked for not working, even if they are not working.
Some departments plan to have furloughed political appointees write a check to the U.S. Treasury for the amount of their daily gross pay for each day they are on "furlough." Most will be expected to work anyhow.
Because the presidential appointees cannot legally take a pay cut, their annual salaries will continue (even if they pay Uncle Sam for furlough days) and they will be taxed at the end of the year on the gross pay even though they gave some of it back to the government.
Legal experts at Justice and Treasury -- and in individual agencies -- are looking at the situation. But the best reading now is that furloughed brass will face a double pay-tax whammy for the sake of Reaganomics.