July 1st, 2009
09:25 PM ET
5 years ago

White House releases staff salary list

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's salary has maxed out.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's salary has maxed out.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Top-level staff members of the Obama White House earn the same amount as their predecessors in the Bush administration, according to a report submitted to Congress Wednesday. The president announced the pay freeze on his first full day in office for White House employees earning more than $100,000.

The report, which a 1994 law requires be submitted annually to Senate and House oversight committees, shows 487 employees on the White House personnel list. Of those, 455 are employed directly by the White House, while an additional 32 are so-called "detailees" on loan from other federal agencies.

Among the actual employees, 122 staffers earn more than $100,000 annually, compared to 125 employees in the final year of the Bush administration. Twenty-two Obama White House staffers make the top possible salary of $172,200, compared to 18 employees who made that amount in the Bush White House.

Obama White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and press secretary Robert Gibbs both make the top amount, as did their Bush counterparts Joshua Bolten and Dana Perino. Other top Obama aides who earn the maximum salary are senior adviser David Axelrod, White House Counsel Gregory Craig, communications director Anita Dunn, speechwriting director Jonathan Favreau, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, National Security Adviser James Jones, and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers.

The highest-paid White House staff member is Public Health Policy Director David Marcozzi, who earns $192,934. However, as a detailee from the Department of Health and Human Services, his salary is not paid directly by the White House.

WHITE HOUSE STAFFERS EARNING THE TOP SALARY OF $172,200

David Axelrod
Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser

Melody Barnes
Assistant to the President and and Director of the Domestic Policy Council

John Brennan
Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security

Elizabeth Brown
Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary

Carol Browner
Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Gregory Craig
Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President

Thomas Donilon
Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser

Anita Dunn
Assistant to the President and Director of Communications

Rahm Emanuel
Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

Jonathan Favreau
Assistant to the President and Director of Speechwriting

Patrick Gaspard
Assistant to the President and Director of Political Affairs

Robert Gibbs
Assistant to the President and Press Secretary

Valerie Jarrett
Senior Adviser and Assistant to the President and for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

James Jones
National Security Adviser

Christopher Lu
Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary

Alyssa Mastromonaco
Assistant to the President and Director of Scheduling and Advance

James Messina
Assistant to the President and and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

Peter Rouse
Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser

Philip Schiliro
Assistant to the President and Director, Office of Legislative Affairs

Susan Sher
Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady

Lawrence Summers
Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council

Mona Sutphen
Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy

Complete list published by the White House (PDF)


Filed under: Extra • Obama administration
soundoff (155 Responses)
  1. jack

    jesus!
    Most physicians make twice that!
    many nurses make as much....what is the motivation here? Public service? fame? a higher goal?

    July 1, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  2. RMG

    All are over qualified and under paid. I cannot believe that this is what we pay people, smart and energetic, people to help run our country. I am stunned particularly during this time of high stress and conflict. I agree with Robin...they could make much more somewhere else. AND let's not forget the cost of living in DC!

    July 1, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  3. James Gilson

    I would love to see the job descriptions for these people and weigh the salary against the amount of work they actually do.

    This could also be done with the congress. The congress should be put on incentive rates. No production worthwhile, no pay.

    In all honesty, I feel that the entire salary system is out of line. The country hurting and more and more hired at these rates. Very poor decisions making.

    July 1, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. Mr. Roboto

    If all of America is unanimous in thinking that members of the board of directors in companies make astronomically and unduly excessive amounts of money and compensation, why is it that we are helpless to do anything about it? Is there nothing we can do? It seems that it is only a matter of time of these people raiding the companies for all they're worth, that we will no longer be able to afford to buy any products any more. All the money in the companies is going to a very small group of people who do absolutely nothing. They are "supposed" to be impartial and ensure that company's are honest and truthful, but they don't even do that... every single one of those people signed off on AIG ! Enron! Fanny Mae! They did nothing. They sat on the Board, and collected a paycheck, driving up the prices for all of us. Is there NOTHING we can do about it!??!!?????

    July 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  5. George

    They should be payed double to clean up Bush and Chenny's messes.
    Cut congress pay since they don't seem to be doing too much now days.
    At least the salaries of the say NO party. They are taking up time and space now days. That money would give the administration people a nice raise.

    July 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Leah

    Obama paid his people less than GWB paid for his people
    Now isn't that interesting.
    Plus there are salary freeze which means these people get less and no salary increase either
    and yet they are responsible for the country as big as USA

    July 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  7. Tim

    "487 people on the White House staff. Obama could never get to the top job in the private sector, that's for sure."

    Yeah, I know, "phoenix86," it's not like he's President of the United States of America or anything like that. Clearly, Obama has no capacity to get to the top of anything. Thanks for blowing the lid off this, you obvious genius, you.

    July 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  8. James Gilson

    Some of these people listed have never had a real job. Real work would put them in a mental institution. I don't think that he has anyone worth the pay given.

    I suppose an Ivy League education does pay off. One may not know anything but they have the money and they know the buzz word "Yes we can".

    With luck, we have less than four years of this.

    July 1, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  9. Laura, WA

    Wow, some people here will gripe about anything. I suppose everyone at the White House should be expected to work for free? Most if not all of these people could make several times their White House salaries (at least) in the private sector. Geez.

    July 1, 2009 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  10. Kathy

    They deserve what they get paid. If they worked in the private sector, they could earn double that and more. Who would want to do what these people do, the hours they work, the sacrifices they make, their private lives exposes, etc., etc. Not me!!!

    July 1, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  11. Ronnie Lavigne

    It doesn' make sense that a person with limited amount of education
    can make upwards of 60 -70 thousand dollars a year in an industrial setting, as labourers ,and harvard graduates are earning roughly the
    same amount. Somebody missed the boat on this one.

    July 1, 2009 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  12. Kim

    This is nothing new; Dubya's people x 8yrs made this much, as did Clinton's, as did Bush I's, and so on. Where was the fussing about Rove, Rice (prior State Dept.), etc.?? People at this level work incredibly long hours and work weekends and holidays. Also, consider the cost of living in the DC area. And I don't think these staff have Federal civil service protection-so they can be fired at any time. For all you gripers.....you try working like there for 60 days and then check back, OK?

    July 1, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  13. Reality

    Karen in Ohio – You, my dear, have been hoodwinked.

    July 1, 2009 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  14. Cornell... Fairfax

    When comparied to equal responsibilities within most US companies these people are grossly underpaid. It is surprising that qualified people will want to do the job. BTW why do we need to know this information?

    July 1, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  15. soulstar

    some of the posters on here are idiots...obviously they do not understand how much $$ some of these people are sacrificing to serve the country. they could be making way more in private enterprse. do you know how much some of the execs in our capitalist system make???? try hundreds of millions (100,000 times more than their workers!!!). secondly, the article specifically states that obama froze their pay on the first day of his term at the bush rates. thirdly, please write things that make sense...not stupid crap that show you blindly oppose obama on things he has no control over, has done well, or make absolutely no sense. your bias, blindness, and ignorance is astounding!

    July 1, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  16. Daniel

    Anyone who does not understand why the top advisers to the President make the salaries that they do is both completely ignorant of the pay cut that these individuals take by working in the public sector and the time, effort and experience required to do any of these jobs. Lawrence Summers for example made close to $600,000 a year as president of Harvard. These are the standard salaries for people in upper level public positions, are completely appropriate and are clearly similar to the salaries of Bush's staff.

    July 1, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  17. New Yorker

    The article doesn't mention that Obama has added 78,000 new jobs to the government (taxpayer) payroll since he took office just few months ago. YOU the over-tax(ed)-payers are footing the bill for these government employees; their salaries, benefits, and pensions. Do you know how many billions or trillions of $$$$ that will cost you over their lifetimes???? Wake up before it's too late!!! Join A Tea Party and stop supporting the Obama regime.

    July 1, 2009 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  18. Laura, WA

    "no new taxes" - read the article again. The Press Secretary makes the same as the other people you mentioned. They all make the maximum salary of $172,000.

    July 1, 2009 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  19. just truth

    to Karen in ohio.

    I served my country for 12 yaers and was forced out of military do to injuries sustained in the line of duty. I damn sure didn't make near that much and had to uproot my family every 2-3 years. get to .... and get your info straight before running the perverbial mouth..

    July 1, 2009 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  20. jt

    These people are not doing these jobs for the salary, obviously. And the cost of living in DC is outrageous.

    July 1, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Bill

    Spend baby spend, Socialism at its best.............GLY

    July 1, 2009 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  22. Profitt

    All I know is that the stock market is on fire right now. I don't know anybody who's NOT making money. Seriously, not one single person. Everything is up across the board. We should get a big spike during the 4th of July week. It's looking like its really getting ready to take off.

    God Bless prosperous times again. I can actually be just a buy-and-hold investor and still make a killing in this Market !

    July 1, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  23. Alpha and Omega

    HELP! Hire the 30% Disabled Vet with her Masters Plus 30 and years of varied work experiences. My out-of-the-box thought process would be of tremendous assistance to your platform.
    You haven't offered me a seat at the table. I'm just a lowly special needs EMD (self-contained) high school teacher.
    To make what those staffers make for one year would put me along the path to accomplishing my goals: zero debts; fix the homestead; fix the alternate homestead (daughter's house); further education at the PhD level; put a few pennies away for fastly approaching retirement.

    Why can't I work with the Disable Vets? Why can't I assist the Health Care Initiative? Why can't I assist the School Reform? Why can't I co-liason with the Faith-based organizations? Why can't I engage the Service Learning Programs/Projects to assist the inner city students?
    See, you really do need me on your payroll!

    July 1, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  24. JWS3

    To: Terry from West Texas

    Larry Ellison is entitled to his $10,000.00 per hour, he is entitled to the money even if he does nothing. It is his company, like Bill Gates, he had a good idea and created Oracle. Where do you get the right to determine what someone should be paid. This is a common theme among democrat/ socialist Obama supporters,"it is not fair, they make too much money, limit their pay, tax the rich." Socialism has never worked, not even once. I too hope Obama"s policys fail. If his plans fail, capitalism wins, America wins, everyboldy that wants to earn their place in life wins.

    July 1, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  25. Realistic Democrat

    Must be nice... My unemployment is nowhere near even those that made $36k, let alone the $172k people. Mr. Obama, I voted for you, please redistribute some of that wealth my way...

    July 1, 2009 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
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