When Robin Hood Became King

“I got into broadcasting because I like to give.  Sometimes I found myself hurting from giving too much, and I’d say, ‘Stop it.’  I’m always gonna cherish this [humanitarian award, which he subsequently leaves in a taxi], and all of you.”

            —Bill Murray as Frank X. Cross in Scrooged


Ah, our Benevolent Leader is at it again, channeling his inner Bill Clinton to assure us that he feels our pain.  In an almost impossibly transparent and shallow gesture, the President announced last week that in order to show solidarity with federal workers being adversely impacted by the effects of budget sequestration, he would be returning 5% of his Presidential salary to the Treasury.

You know, because we’re all in this together.

Superficially this almost appears to be the right thing to do, and no doubt the sycophants in the media will fall all over themselves to praise this latest move by Obama The Great to try to unite the country behind “common sense” ideas and for him to be one with his subjects—er, citizens.  And a good many will believe it.  But a closer look reveals this to once again be nothing more than a crass, juvenile show of form over anything resembling substance.

Many federal workers are facing furloughs—periods of forced unpaid leave.  For some, these furloughs may stretch upwards of four weeks, and amount to a 20% pay cut.  So Obama, in all his empathy, volunteers to take a 5% cut in solidarity with their 20%.


Even workers losing only 10-12 days to furlough are taking about a 5% cut.  So what the President is doing with his little voluntary charade is essentially joining the least impacted of the furloughed federal workers.  In other words, he’s doing as little as he can possibly get away with to still claim the political brownie points.  But it’s really worse than that.

Recall that the President makes a salary of $400,000 per year, plus spending allowance, travel allowance, free lodging in a not-too-shabby joint, free security, free food, etc.  He’s doing more than OK; he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s in that lofty 1% he so loves to demonize, and he’s in exponentially better shape than the very best off of the federal workers being furloughed.  So his salary give-back is doing the least, but doing it from a position of having the most.

Take it a step further.  That $400,000—which is all he’s said he’d be giving back 5% of; he’s not even counting the perks—isn’t his whole income.  In fact, it’s just a little over half of his income.  Remember, he still draws royalties from his books about himself.  He and Michelle reported nearly $800,000 in income in 2011 (the last year for which information is available).  He’s not giving up one thin dime of that.  So that “5%” giveback is really only about 2.5% of his actual revenues.

The generosity and self-sacrifice almost moves you to tears, doesn’t it?

This is the same man who for years has lectured us at every opportunity about the need for the rich to “pay their fair share,” meaning contribute disproportionately more to the collective good than their less-well-off neighbors.  As a refresher:

July 25, 2011:

“Are we a nation that asks only the middle class and the poor to bear the burden after they’ve seen their jobs disappear and their incomes decline over a decade? . . . Before we ask seniors to pay more for Medicare, we should ask people like me to give up tax breaks that we don’t need and weren’t even asking for.”

April 11, 2012: 

“One in four millionaires pays a lower tax rate than millions of hardworking middle-class households . . . It’s just plain wrong that middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.” 

January 2, 2013:

“Obviously, there is still more to do when it comes to reducing our debt.  And I’m willing to do more, as long as we do it in a balanced way that doesn’t put all the burden on seniors or students or middle class families, but also asks the wealthiest Americans to contribute and pay their fair share.” 

Time and again he has pounded this populist bullcrap about those with more—who already pay the vast, vast, vast majority of taxes—needing to do more still before they’ve reached their somehow-never-quite-defined “fair share.”  This, of course, is straight out of the Communist credo from each according to his ability, but don’t you dare call him a Communist or you’ll expose your inner Jim Crow.  And Obama has repeatedly given lip service to the notion that he would gladly have this same standard apply to himself.

But isn’t it interesting what happens when the rubber actually meets the road.  The average U.S. household has a total tax liability of about 6.5%—roughly the same percentage as the average pay cut for furloughed federal workers—and Obama’s idea of the wealthy’s “fair share” (at least until he needs even more of their money) is something closer to 40%.  Following that same logic, for him to be showing true solidarity with furloughed federal workers, under his own concept of “fair share” Obama should be giving back at a minimum 40% of his Presidential salary (never mind his total income and the value of all the perks of the office).  Surely he at least should be giving back a percentage equal to the largest pay cut among furloughed workers.  If he were truly trying to share in the sacrifice and contribute his fair share, he should be leading by example and as one of those with the most he should be doing the most, right? 


As always with the liberal elites, the need to contribute a “fair share” ends where their own wallets begin; they’re all for more and more sacrifice as long as it’s being done with someone else’s money.  Obama and his surrogates shine a bright light on his “voluntary contribution” in an effort to claim the political high ground, but in reality he’s putting as little skin in the game as possible in order to support that claim.  Meanwhile he plays his golf, and flits from one DNC fundraiser to another in between his lavish vacations.  It’s a sham; a sophomoric veneer intended to fool the gullible into believing that he’s in it for them, that he’s sharing in the sacrifice.

And nobody—but nobody—is calling him on it.

It must be good to be the king. 


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