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Spare us your salary sequestration stunts

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel -- a former enlisted man, from modest circumstances -- said on Tuesday that he'd give up a portion of his $200,000 salary in solidarity with civilian Defense Department employees facing furloughs. (Hagel was simply following Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who announced his intention to forgo some of his salary a month ago.) Giving up 14 days' worth of salary, for Hagel, will require first getting paid, and then writing a check to the Treasury.

This prompted President Obama to announce that he, too, would call attention to the widespread deprivation and needless immiseration Congress has foisted upon the nation by formally returning 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury as well. Five percent of his $200,000 annual salary. That he doesn't need because he's rich.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and Iraq War veteran, upped the stakes by announcing that she had already written a $1,218 check to the Treasury, representing a whopping 8.4 percent of one month of her congressional salary. Duckworth, I am pretty sure, is not nearly as rich as President Obama or Secretary Hagel, but on $174,000 a year, not counting tax deductible expenses, $1,218 shouldn't hurt too much (she says she'll do a check each month).

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