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. suval

    These guys are working their backsides off 24-7 for what? We have allowed the Banking CEOs to offer bonuses three times the salary these White House staffers are getting. Just because people work for the Government or the White House does not mean they should have a salary freeze or less than we pay [with taxpayer money] some worthless CEOs. These people appear to answer their mail and phone messages too .That is more than the Mortgage Depts of the banks are doing these days..

    It's my opinion that the White House would collape without this highly dedicated group and they deserve more than they are getting. The salary freeze was not respectful and it was not fair in light of what Pres Obama has allowed the banks to do with OUR money. Let's level the playing field .Either halt the bonus problem at the Banks or treat the WH Staff with some dignity and an increase in pay.

    July 1, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  2. Profitt

    @New Yorker

    "YOU the over-tax(ed)-payers are footing the bill for these government employees..."

    What's NEW about that? Isn't that what governments DO?
    -Try living in CALIFORNIA!!!
    The most taxed state, and, the most mismanaged budget!!!!

    July 1, 2009 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  3. CNN = Moveon.org

    @Karen in Ohio

    People do this in every administration. I didn't hear these comments coming from democrats when Bush was President. All of a sudden, these salaries are to be respected? All of President Bush's staff deserved every penny as well, and were patriots as well. You are making it a partisan issue by only thanking those who serve in the Obama administration and not just saying all administrations.


    What Stock market are you looking at? It is no where near as high as it was when it was under the Bush presidency, where there were record highs in the stock market. Unfortunately for America, Democrats were voted back into leadership positions in Congress and the economy, and stock market, crashed as a result.

    July 1, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  4. steve

    why are they all paid the same, surely the chief of staff as head of the WHO should be paid most?? also why is the deputy national security advisor paid the same as the real advisor, same for all other deputies.

    The government and public sector has a crazy pay scale, totally unreflective of real life.

    July 1, 2009 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  5. michael borowski

    thay are getting paid,, hope you do us( U.S.) a good job

    July 1, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  6. Robert Yoon, CNN

    Greetings, everyone. To "No New Taxes," let me say that yours was definitely the most practical feedback I've read all night. You're right that having the job titles in ALL CAPS was hard to read. The reason is that in our haste to get "The News" to you, Our Readers, we cut and paste the names and titles from the actual White House report, which listed the titles in ALL CAPS. But because I like your moxie, I have gone back and put them into lower case. And as an added bonus, i put the names in BOLD, free of charge. If I made any typos, they were inadvertent, but I'm sure you'll let us know.

    A few of you have mentioned the abundance of "assistant" positions. "Assistant to the President" is a fairly common job title for upper-level White House staff; you'll notice that even Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, is an "assistant to the president." So an "assistant" in the White House isn't necessarily the same type of assistant that Dolly Parton or Lily Tomlin played in "9 to 5."

    July 1, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  7. Michelle in Arizona

    Are you done critisizing the WH 's staff salary ?
    I thought their salaries are low, very low to compare to what they have to do. Just imaging, It takes less than 500 people to run the most powerful office in the world ? Can you imaging how much time, effort, stress and many other awful things these people will endure for the next 4 or 8 years. Have you ever worked under tremendous stress condition ? Have you ever worked 60-70 hours a week, for straight 3 years, i did it, and i know how hard it is, nevertheles, i did it because i love my job, i enjoyed my job, i took the proud ownership of what i do.
    I never afraid of hard work. Always have " yes, i can do it " attitude.
    My sacrifice paid off. Thank God, I am still working today and making a good living, over 100K.
    The US government is running the world of 6 billions people. they are doing the impossible job. It's hard ! Try to run the world, folks.
    To see how much you want to be paid. Give them a break folks.

    July 1, 2009 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  8. bozo the obama

    the most overpaid person is that community organizer and he is also the most under qualified clown too.

    July 1, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  9. Jason

    So the salaries sampled across the board are on par with the Bush administration ... yet Obama has added 50,000 new federal positions and too many new Czars to count. Lets total the paychecks, shall we?

    July 1, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  10. just truth

    for those who say they are making a sacrifice and are serving thier country. I served my country in the military for 10+ years and made considarable less. and yes it was a twenty four hour a day job. 6+ months away from my family and YES i lived in wash/d.c. area. stop the b.s. about the cost of living and get the truth straight..

    July 1, 2009 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  11. Mike in Santa Fe

    I asked my two Senators and Representative to detail the salaries and staff (and their salaries) of all the so-called "Czars" that have been hired. I also asked who they report to, and who has oversight authority for them.

    So far...nothing but chirping crickets.

    July 1, 2009 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  12. renea

    We already know that elective officials makes pretty good money but to me this none of my business, all i really care about is,are they doing what they were elective to do and i think so far they are. They have a really hard job to do especially the president and i definetly dont care about what he make because i feel he deserves every dime of it when we are sleep he is up worrying about what to do about this country, how to keep it safe etc,. So to me THEY DESERVE IT as long as they are doing their job. And the rebublicans need to stay out of this one.

    July 1, 2009 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  13. Brandon

    They didn't get jobs at the White House by being idiots. The people that are complaining are idiots. Maybe go get a better education and then you'll realize that the government can't pay itself morons. It is the American citizens responsibility to ensure the government has the necessary funds to run the show, hense taxes. Half the people on the Staff make 40,000 or below. Several telemarketers make that same salary. How about stfu and be quiet. Someone hand these people a Bush binky.

    July 1, 2009 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  14. Mary the Democrat

    Calling people racist because they disagree with the Presidents actions is getting OLD AND TIRED!

    Time to grow up people........

    July 1, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  15. Michelle in Arizona

    To me, the overpaids are the so-called sport celebrities.
    Nobody worths that much. Most of the White House staff spent most of their lives in school while the athletes spent most of their time to play.

    July 1, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  16. Leonore Dvorkin

    For what they have to do, and considering how expensive it is to live in DC, I find these salaries surprisingly low.
    I also applaud the Obama administration for releasing these figures.
    I would guess that what is actually behind the furious comments of the right-wingers here is their frustration at seeing Democrats gain more and more power (so much for the vaunted "permanent Republican majority") and seeing Obama's policies start to work.
    The stock market is indeed up, as a few here have noted. Our IRA with Fidelity is currently shooting up in value. My husband lost his IT job in May, but he has had several phone calls from recruiters, and expects to get something else quite soon.
    We and almost all of our many friends and relatives are very, very happy that Obama is our president. We are even happier to see that the young people of today are trending more and more liberal and are identifying more and more with Democrats. The future looks brighter already.

    July 1, 2009 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  17. DJ, Los Angeles

    All the brilliant neo-cons here would prefer we pay people minimum wage, hire illegal aliens like Mitt Romney or just outsource the jobs to a third-world nation. Who knew you need high salaries to attract top talent?

    July 1, 2009 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  18. Nate

    If Bush was in office all of CNN and the other liberals would be crying about how the economy is in shambles and people are starving while Bush and his staffers live the good life. But..... with Obama it is suddenly okay.

    July 1, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  19. bozo the obama

    Brandon: you are completely right about them not being idiots. They got those jobs by being lobbyist, BIG donors, friends of friends and agents for leftist organizations..It's clear to me and you.

    July 2, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  20. Jay in KS

    Most of these people would be earning much more in the private sector. Obama selected a highly qualified staff. Lets not forget that Rove did not even have a college degree which is amazing. What is the problem here? People in private sector are making millions while tax payors are bailing them out and we are complaining that Obama put a freeze on salaries. I don't at all remember these arguments 8 years ago. Further Clinton/Gore cut the size of gov., left a surplus and Bush grew the gov. and left a stock market and banking system in shambles and the worst debt in US history. I would like to see wall street or ceo's in private sector work for this.

    July 2, 2009 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  21. matt

    reminds me of MC HAMMER... let's just give anyone and everyone a job- Obama won't have any friends in the end.

    July 2, 2009 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  22. New Yorker

    Michelle in Arizona – Would you, by any chance, be one of those newly hired Obama employees? Perhaps an immigrant? Or is it that your ability to write the way you do is a reflection of our "fine" government operated school system?

    Profitt -That's what THIS government does, but if you had a grasp of what the founding fathers intended for this government, as written in the constitution, you would see that what this administration is doing is not anywhere near the mark. We'll all be like CA soon.

    July 2, 2009 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. MileHighInCO

    Considering the WH Staff is working / Living in the DC area, these salaries are peanuts. Not to mention they are running Executive Branch of the most power country in the world.

    July 2, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  24. John

    Obama's White House Staff Deserve their Salaries, Because they all trying Very Hard to Help us get out of the Mess Bush & Company has created for us.

    Bush & Co didnot deserve all the Salaries they received, Because we paid them and they Screwed Us.

    July 2, 2009 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  25. Chaz

    It's all relative. $172k in the DC metro area is typical middle class family income.

    In one way or another, everyone in DC makes their living off the government. The area is full of very wealthy people who own federal contracting businesses, whose incomes are entirely based on federal funds. And I'm not talking about huge federal contractors, either. There are thousands of small and medium private industry firms in DC that contract to the government for two or three times what a civil servant gets paid. They also have no accountability to the public.

    July 2, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
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