The automatic federal spending cuts known as the sequester are forcing thousands of government employees – from air traffic controllers to White House staff – to take unpaid days off. As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney put it, “everyone’s affected by this.”
Well, maybe not everyone.
One executive branch leader has found a way to make the cuts without forcing people out of work: Vice President Biden.
Like most of the federal government, the office of the vice president is subject to across the board spending cuts, but an administration official tells me Biden’s office has been able to do what the FAA – and president’s own staff – have been unable to do: make the required spending cuts without furloughing any employees.
The VP’s office, I am told, is not furloughing anybody and not requiring any staff to take pay cuts. They have found other ways to make the required budget cuts. The VP’s office won’t say how they have made the cuts.
In contrast, the president’s staff is facing furloughs beginning in early May. The FAA started furloughing air traffic controllers on Sunday.
“The sequester affects everyone in the White House office,” Carney said today. “There will be furloughs effective with the first pay period in May as I understand it.”
Perhaps Biden could offer the president, or the FAA, some advice on how to save money without forcing people out of work. After all, he has a reputation within the White House for combating wasteful spending.
As President Obama said of Biden in 2009: “To you, he’s Mr. Vice President, but around the White House, we call him the sheriff because if you’re misusing taxpayer money, you’ll have to answer to him.”
By avoiding furloughs in his own office, Biden also ends up saving himself a few bucks.
Biden’s office has said, “The vice president is committed to sharing the burden of the sequester with his staff.” If his staff faced furloughs, he would do what the president and most of the senior members of the cabinet have done: give back a portion of his salary.
Biden has elected not to give back any of his salary, because none of his own staff have been forced to take a pay cut.