Vice President Joe Biden is following the lead of President Barack Obama and other members of the administration — kind of — by offering to take a pay cut if the members of his staff are impacted by the sequester budget cuts.
President Obama and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel before him have committed to donating a portion of this year’s salary back to the Treasury. Secretary of State John Kerry is giving a portion of his salary to charity. Biden? Well, it depends. If his staff is affected, then Biden is committed to sharing their pain.
“The Vice President is committed to sharing the burden of the sequester with his staff,” his office said in a statement.
One reason for Biden’s reservation may be, quite simply, that he isn’t as well off as the others. Politico reports that Biden and his wife had a combined income of $379,035 in 2011. That number includes Biden’s salary of $230,700. Biden’s net worth is less than $1 million.
The Obamas aren’t as wealthy as many politicians, but Obama has made millions off his books. Kerry has a net worth of $300 million. His wife, heiress to the Heinz fortune, is worth over $1 billion. To put it lightly, they are able to give a little more freely.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano also has a net worth of less than $1 million, and she committed to donating five percent of her salary Thursday to a charity benefiting department personnel that are already facing furloughs. It’s a fitting reminder that $1 million is still a great deal of money, and most of the employees facing furloughs don’t have salaries nearly as comfortable.
Biden’s move matches that of Attorney General Eric Holder, who has agreed to give up the maximum amount lost by any employee of the Department of Justice. Biden’s pay cut commitment also goes farther than what’s been heard coming out of Congress.