Some days, it seems like there’s just no limit to what you can do with an executive order. The most recent addition to the list of many hundreds of EOs signed by Barack Obama lifts a freeze on the pay rates for certain DC denizens. The largest beneficiary of this largess (skimpy though it may be) is a name which may come as a surprise.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order to end the pay freeze on federal employees, in effect giving some federal workers a raise. One federal worker now to receive a pay increase is Vice President Joe Biden.
According to disclosure forms, Biden made a cool $225,521 last year. After the pay increase, he’ll now make $231,900 per year.
Also on the list for a bump next are all of the Senators, House members, John Boehner, majority and minority leaders in both chambers and all the members of the Supreme Court. (Among others.) But as pay raises go, it’s not particularly generous. We’re talking about one half of one percent across the board. The total price tag for the raises works out to $500M in 2013 and $11B spread out over ten years. But the optics on this are still terrible. We just finished up an endless campaign where both candidates constantly reminded us of not only the unacceptable unemployment rates, but of the stagnant wages of a shrinking middle class. Lots of people are once again getting no pay raise at all this year, with most of them just thanking their lucky stars to have a job. Turning around and giving your second in command a raise on his salary – which is already roughly five times the median income in the nation – is going to ring sour in many ears.
And doing it by Executive Order just pours salt in the wound. Remember this?
As a candidate, Obama railed against former President Bush’s expansion of presidential powers, particularly his push to invade Iraq.
“These last few years we’ve seen an unacceptable abuse of power at home,” then-candidate Obama said in Chicago in October of 2007. “We’ve paid a heavy price for having a president whose priority is expanding his own power.”
Bad optics for someone who is famous for being the premier politician of his generation.