THE BLOG
08/23/2011 03:08 pm ET | Updated Oct 24, 2011

Breaking Down Obama's $37M Payroll

Since 1995, every president has had to deliver a salary report of White House employees to Congress and the American people. And at a time when federal spending is front and center - and the government is killing more jobs than they are creating right now - I thought it would be interesting to dig into the 2011 report from the Obama administration and see who's who on the president's payroll.

To be clear, I'm not trying to score political points here. Some of these folks are highly qualified and well-educated individuals (regardless of what you think of their politics) who deserve decent compensation. And let's not forget that the current salary for 535 rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year -- which is a greater salary than any single position in the White House. If you cut that Congressional salary to "only" $100,000 per year, you could save the government $40 million.

Furthermore, some of these jobs are mundane and in my opinion offer pretty meager compensation for the metro DC area. It's not the White House receptionist's fault for the ugly truth of our nation's debt woes, that's for sure.

All those disclaimers aside, here are some of the stats on what Obama's staffers are earning:

Total White House Payroll: $37,121,463

Total White House Employees: 454. Three workers are listed at a salary of zero dollars per annum, however.

Average White House Salary:
Omitting the three workers without pay, simple math gives us an average of $82,309. The median salary is significantly lower, however, at $70,000.

Top Earners: 21 staffers make $172,200 annually -- and you will undoubtedly recognize the names. Except for one instance, all are listed as "Assistant to the President" along with a specific duty, so for brevity's sake I have cut out the assistant status unless it is part of the complete title. The complete list follows in alphabetical order, along with the employee's position:
  • Barnes, Melody C. -- Director of the Domestic Policy Council
  • Brennan, John O. -- Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism
  • Carney, James F. -- Press Secretary
  • Cutter, Stephanie N. -- Deputy Senior Advisor
  • Daley, William M. -- Chief of Staff
  • DeParle, Nancy-Ann Min -- Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy
  • Donilon, Thomas E. -- National Security Advisor
  • Favreau, Jonathan E. -- Director of Speechwriting
  • Jarrett, Valerie B. -- Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
  • Lane, David J. -- Counselor to the Chief of Staff
  • Lu, Christopher P. -- Cabinet Secretary
  • Mastromonaco, Alyssa M. -- Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations
  • McDonough, Denis R. -- Deputy National Security Advisor
  • Nabors, Robert L. -- Director, Office of Legislative Affairs
  • Pfeiffer, Howard D. -- Director of Communications
  • Plouffe, David A. -- Senior Advisor
  • Rouse, Peter M. -- Counselor to the President (though not listed as an "assistant")
  • Ruemmler, Kathryn H. -- Counsel to the President
  • Schiliro, Philip M. -- Special Advisor
  • Sperling, Eugene B. -- Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council
  • Tchen, Christina M. -- Chief of Staff to the First Lady
Who Works for Free: So who's at the other end of the spectrum? Advisor Patricia G. McGinnis, Senior Policy Advisor Jessica E. Schumer and Policy Advisor Shale L. Wong all are listed at pay of $0 per annum.

Who Are the Working Stiffs: Lest you think the White House payroll is populated by policymakers and advisors, there are a host of employees making less than $50,000 per year (not a whole lot in the metro D.C. area) who simply are involved with the day-to-day work of keeping the wheels of government turning. Some of those unsung workers include West Wing receptionist Kathleen E. Herbek, who earns $42,000 per year, or travel manager Mary E. Baskerville, who earns $45,000 per year. Surely these are not just "regular" jobs, being at the White House. But it's worth noting that the list of employees also is populated with normal folks with normal responsibilities.

You can find this year's complete list of Obama administration employees at WhiteHouse.gov.

Email Jeff at editor@investorplace.com.

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