Lavish Pay Raises for Obama Staffers

Spreading the wealth around the White House.

The White House staff is producing such spectacular achievements for the nation that the president gave his top people an average salary raise of 50 percent. Some nearly have doubled their pay.

The average new White House salary was $81,765; more than twice the $34,000 the average Joe or Jane makes if fortunate enough even to have a job in our depressingly uncertain economic environment.


Anyone qualified to work in any White House must have some ability. But the generous compensation is taken from “suffering American taxpayers,” as the put it in a July 12 story. The raises were for the 2010-2011 year.

The 82 percent raise to $130,500 for the special assistant to the president for economic policy, Matthew Vogel, must be universally applauded. Any aide involved with economic policy surely is worthy of generous monetary recognition.  Who could possibly question whatever sound economic counsel Vogel must be providing to the president. He has helped hold the current interest on the national debt to a mere $386 billion for fiscal 2011. He must be one of Obama’s real belt-tighteners.

He couldn’t be as cold-hearted as, say, Jeffrey Immelt, head of the President’s Jobs Council, who laughed heartily with Obama when Obama admitted recently that there apparently weren’t as many shovel-ready jobs available as he once thought. If that isn’t good for a guffaw, what is?

When Obama first came into office, he froze the pay of his senior staff at $100,000. Maybe that amount of pay seemed frugal to him, even though millions of Americans had no pay at all.

Now when there is so much money in the federal Treasury and a national debt of only $14.3 trillion, Obama must feel he can spread the money around even at the White House, harking back to the time in his early campaigning when he told Joe the Plumber how he wanted to “spread the wealth around.”

And there’s the director of African media. Kevin Lewis, among the pay-hike recipients. His 86 percent salary boost to $78,000 certainly shows that although Obama billed himself as a “post-racial” president it may surprise some that there is even a need for a director of African American media. All races in the news media get the same twisted spin from the White House.  But the black vote is essential for re-election. So, the African American media certainly can’t be denied a “director” in the White House.

Denis McDonough, an “assistant to the President and national security advisor,” received only a measly 17 percent raise–from $147,599 to $172,200. Maybe because of those pesky national security failures.  Ignored, for example, was the defense fiasco when long-range interceptor missile fired by our military failed to hit its target in a test over the Pacific in December. We don’t have secure defenses either from missile attacks or from border crossings by terrorists. Travelers are patted and pawed at airports, while stun guns are found on our planes.

Pay raises Obama handed out must look almost like White house staffers are winning the lottery compared to the evaporated income of the 14.1 million unemployed in today’s workless workforce. Some of the 982,000 “discouraged” workers likely would find it hard to drum up a memory of when they even got a 3 or 4 percent pay raise.

Mortimer Zuckerman in U.S. News & World Report writes that “we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, in the face of the “most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history.” There have been “no net increases in full-time jobs, only part-time jobs,” he writes, despite Obama’s bragging about jobs created or saved.

The “real job losses” are greater than the 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, so many have quit looking for work. The unemployment numbers don’t include those who have stopped looking or who are working part time but would work full time if a job were available. And they include those who have applied for a job in the past four weeks. Include those others “and the real number is a nasty 16 percent.” The states own the federal unemployment insurance fund “an astonishing $90 billion to cover unemployment benefits,” Zuckerman points out.

For young people, who deliriously fell at Obama’s feet during his 2008 campaign, the jobless economy has been severe. Only 24 percent of teens, one in four, have jobs, according to a Wall Street Journal article July 1. That contrasts with 42 percent in the summer of 2001.

Congress contributed to this when it passed the ill-timed Nancy Pelosi-backed bill to raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, taking untrained and unskilled off the job market.

Worse, unemployment among young people has led to an increase in mental health problems, including depression, panic attacks and self-loathing, said an article last year, updated July 13. The Prince’s Trust new youth index said unemployment has caused problems such as self harm and insomnia. One in six young people were said to have found unemployment “as stressful as family breakdown." The study was among 16 to 25-year-olds not in education, employment or training. Half the unemployed young said they felt “ashamed to visit a job center.”

If young people were so upset, think how an older person with no job and a family to support must be affected. And how pleasing it must be for them to know that at least the president has been spreading the “wealth” among his talented staffers.