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White House Payroll Up 14% Under Obama

Saturday, 30 Jun 2012 08:55 PM

By Todd Beamon

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White House salaries have jumped by nearly $5 million in the three years since Barack Obama became president, official figures show.

The 468 people who work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue earn $37.8 million, the White House's annual report to Congress shows. That compares to $33.1 million in George W. Bush's last year in the Oval Office, an increase of 14.1 percent.

The report was released at 4.39 p.m. Friday, a notorious time for dumping bad news just before a weekend. By statute it hhad a July 1 deadline.

The White House payroll is up nearly 2 percent on last year from $37.1 million and the number of employers is also up by a similar percentage, up from 454.

The Obama White House has 139 employees who make more than $100,000 a year. The top scale, $172,200, goes to his senior advisors, including Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Press Secretary Jay Carney, Senior Advisor David Plouffe, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, National Security Advisor, Thomas Donilon and Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

The highest-paid employee on First Lady Michelle Obama’s 12-member staff, Chief of Staff Christina Tchen is also paid $172,200.

Overall, the White House has 68 special assistants to the president, 22 assistants to the president and 24 deputy assistants on staff this year. Their areas of expertise range from economic policy to presidential correspondence to legislative affairs.

But a closer look reveals some notables, including a $96,725 annual salary for a chief calligrapher — versus $85,953 for a plain old calligrapher — $136,134 for an ethics advisor, $103,800 for a “supervisor of classification,” $80,000 for an assistant to the executive clerk and $58,000 for a senior scheduler.

President Obama has two “special assistants” whose titles encompass “traveling aide” — they each get $60,000 — and Mrs. Obama has a “personal assistant and personal aide” who is paid $50,000.

Sitting at the helm of the president’s 16-member economics team are Eugene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, and Michael Froman, deputy national security advisor for international economics. They each make $172,200.

The team also includes a special assistant “for healthcare and economic policy,” who is paid $130,500.

But the White House has only one person devoted to manufacturing — a “special assistant for manufacturing policy,” who is paid $120,000. A total of 26 employees are working in various “detailee” positions, with pay of $51,600 to $165,300 a year. A “detailee” is a worker who is “borrowed” by the White House from another agency, which continues to pay salary and benefits while the employee is at the White House. They’re usually brought in for short-term, high-profile assignments.

The White House has two “vetters” on staff — making just $45,000 a year — and a “senior vetting counsel for presidential personnel,” who makes $90,000 a year.

By statute, President Obama’s salary is $400,000, and Vice President Joe Biden is paid $221,100.

White House officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment about the fatter 2012 payroll.

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