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

White House releases staff salary list

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/20/art.rahm0120.gi.jpg caption="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.


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. annie against biased news

    Well that is a sad bit of news – how will he buy more dead fish?

    July 1, 2009 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  2. they need a raise

    with the impatience of some of the voters and the regular bashing, they deserve every penny

    they work hard, are making good tough decisions

    thank you all for serving and you are doing a great job

    thank you mr. pres

    July 1, 2009 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  3. Jon

    Scott–You're a teacher and "only" make 54k per year??? These "assistants" are assisting the President in forming policy to run the country. They work 20 hour days responding to every worldwide crisis. Not to diminish the role of teachers, but you work 9 months out of the year, and complain about being under paid and overworked. Whether you agree with the politics or not, White House staffers have HUGE responsibility for disproportionately low pay.

    July 1, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  4. Mark,B'ham,Al.

    They are paid a whole lot more than the US Military who put their lives on the line even in training. They do this for the power, influence and what it does to their resume when they make millions as lobbyist. The average civil servant makes $75,000.00 per year compaired to civilian counter parts who average $61,000.00 per year.

    July 1, 2009 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  5. Ms. Johnson, Pearland,Texas

    These salaries are very, very low and an embarrasment for the demands of these jobs.

    July 1, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  6. john red

    even though government workers are paid less than in the private sector, it is almost impossible to fire government employees. and they get better holidays and pensions. so they make less money for a lot more job security.

    July 1, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. Richard

    They should get paid on what they deserve by work experience and collge levels of degree. Dont put a cap or restricitons on an individual to strife better then the next indiviudal who slack from acheving to do better in life.

    July 1, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  8. Cres , Calfirnia

    The president and the white house staff should get paid more.
    They get bashed and scrutinized by everyone. They have so much
    responsibility. Cost of living in D. C. is high. If they are rich to begin with it's okay. They should make more than s$200.000. Look @ the CEO of AIG and others. They make millions and they are bankrupt.

    July 1, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. betsy

    What a response to this article; many people think they are getting too much (probably Republicans, and we don't know how much their Bush counterparts earned during the Bush Administration), and some people think they are being paid too little. Their perks are long, long hours; combing through copious amounts of information from every state in the country..that's why they need all these assistants; some people writing here don't have a clue how difficult their jobs really are. I say most are qualified, or overqualified, and underpaid.

    July 1, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. Nero

    Too many ignorant people posting. What is 179,000 bucks and having to deal and put up the all the crap they do every day?

    Those making over 100,000 are still under paid as well as those earning under 40,000.

    In the private sector, most of those people would earn twice; yet they are willing to take less.

    Yeah, some people say they should be paid what they are getting and I think that's a bunch of baloney.

    Sorry to say the school teacher who makes 40,000 may well deserve more BUT that depends on her experience as well as her qualifications. Teachers in general are under paid and we all know that but the choice is theirs'. If you are dedicated to teaching then get a job on Wall Street.

    Last weekend I help to pickup the tab for my friends class dinner. It was her way of saying thanks to her students; yet, she knew almost every dollar came out of her own pocket. She is indeed in the same salary scale as the teacher who wrote a comment here. I feel sorry for her and the other great teachers who are being short changes BUT it's what they love to do.

    End of the school year, she is more than $500 in the red for having to purchase things from her own pocket. I see no reason to complain about the salary the White House staff mskes. If the President was in the private sector, he would be earning several million per year and that does not include perks.

    July 1, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  11. Terry from West Texas

    Contrast these salaries with CEOs like Larry Ellison of Oracle, who earns about $10,000 per hour (google it if you don't believe me). I would like to follow that guy around with a camera for an hour to see what a $10,000 hour's work looks like. Then, I am sure we can find some Indian executives who can do the same thing for a measly thousand per hour.

    They would have us believe that they are worth 400 times what the average American worker, like you and me, are worth. They would have you believe that some mystical law of the universe sets their salaries at the appropriate rate. The plain truth is, they set their own pay. It would be nice if American businessmen's accomplishments matched their self-esteem.

    July 1, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  12. Dan, TX

    It's fine to say government is wasting money and we shouldn't pay people so much. However, maybe if you pay them more, we'll get better people who want to work in government? After all, you get what you pay for. Who would take any job that paid less than $100,000 a year? I don't know anyone with a good education who doesn't have a job and make a comfortable salary.

    July 1, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  13. jd

    Let's see if they are worth that by their ability to re-employ me and other workers who make under $30K that don't have jobs and can't find work because all these high priced people in these corporations and politicians sent our jobs overseas and took bonuses to lay people off that make our low wages so they can stay in their greedy lifestyle with their portfolios.

    Get to work DC and get me a job!

    July 1, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  14. alvino

    It is good to see the representatives of the party of "NO!" crawl out from under their rocks and give their take on what they think a public servant should make. I wonder what would be a comparable wage in the private sector with bonuses.

    July 1, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  15. Champly

    So why doesn't he explain the details of the auto "bailout" ? The weird stuff in the "cap and trade" bill totally unrelated to climate change. This is just a little shell game to grab the attention of CNN and others who ignore the important stuff.

    July 1, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  16. Kathy

    It is easy to see who are the democrats and who are the republicans with the comments. Of course the repub don't think anyone should make money but themselves and they're rich buddies.
    For the area they live in and the amount they make they are way underpaid and anyone who says any different is just playing dirty politics. Hopefully the republicans will lose further offices and we can restore the nation for the middle class again instead of Big oil and Big healthcare insurance industry.

    July 1, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  17. Troy

    You have Coach Krzyzewski (Duke's Head Basketball Coach) making 3.5 Million to teach 18 year olds how to set a pick and roll and the ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT AND DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM AND HOMELAND SECURITY making $172,200?? Seems like there is something seriously wrong with this statement!! No offense Coach K!!!

    July 1, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  18. munchmom

    They don't live on Main Street, for sure!

    July 1, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. New Yorker

    The article doesn't mention that President Obama has added 78,000 new federal jobs to the payroll. Another step in his Socialist plan. And guess who is paying their salary and benefit package and pension. YOU! (well, unless you are one of the privileged non-working, no tax-paying class).

    "Change you can believe in" if you want the government to have total control of our lives. Maybe in a few years the Iraqis will come and liberate us from the Obama regime.

    July 1, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. D. D.

    They deserve their salaries; however if ant of these leaders feel like being charitable give any of them my e-mail. Please?

    July 1, 2009 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  21. jim

    compared to the bush staff, these salaries are very similar.

    why are the republican commenters ranting and raving?

    clearly they have no valid arguments.

    again, they prove they are the party of no.

    July 1, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  22. "no new taxes"

    Are you serious... the "Press Secretary" earns more than our nation's National Security Advisor?!? Than the Director of the National Economis Cousel.

    Seems like an awful lot of money to be paying for a little boy dressed in man's clothing, to be waltzing around and acting all cavalier and snobbish.

    July 1, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  23. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    No matter who is in office, government always seems to be a crime in progress.

    July 1, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  24. from kansas

    This makes me sick! anyone that thinks that they are not paid enough makes me rather ill. I'm glad that professional athletes are paid more than these people, atleast they have mostly positive outlook for the country. I use to be for Obama, but the way he's handling this country makes me want to vomit. I hope those white house staff is payin' their taxes too!

    July 1, 2009 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. DL

    These people complaining about their salaries......let me ask you this, what were the salaries of Bush's cronies and the kickbacks they got with their no bid contracts, didn't Cheney and Bush file their tax returns in the millions? This is tiny in comparison, and for the mess these people were left and have to clean up, they are still underpaid....so quit whining.

    July 1, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
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