by Andrew Malcolm
In his numerous fund-raising and policy speeches around the country these days, President Obama often bemoans the difficult economic times and uncertainties afflicting millions of Americans, including the nearly 14 million still seeking work unsuccessfully.
The Democrat argues that his administration needs more time to straighten out the economic mess left by somebody else, who's been gone almost 900 days now.
But good news this morning: The challenging Obama era and 9.1% national unemployment rate do not include the 454 people now helping President Obama do presidential things.
This crowd is being paid a total of $37,121,463 this year. That's up seven staff members and nearly $4 million from 2008, the last year of George W. Bush's presidency.
Fully 141 Obama aides -- or nearly one-in-three -- earn more than $100,000 a year. That's also up from the 130 with that scale salary in Bush's last year.
Twenty-one Obama aides earn the top-dollar $172,200.
The staff names and salaries report, required annually by Congress, was released on Friday by the White House. The timing, however, was probably an accident because last Friday most Americans were not watching the news closely and were thinking of not working for a three-day holiday weekend.
Because Americans would no doubt be pleased to know of the Obama staff's economic success amid the bleak national scene for so many others, we saved the information for today, when most Americans who are still employed are back at their own jobs and can share the joy.
The 2011 White House salary report does not include mention of the 41 unidentified Obama staff members who owe the Internal Revenue Service $831,000 in back taxes. That report came out last fall (Scroll down for the link.)
The report comes as Republicans and Democrats, led from behind by Obama, appear stalemated in closed-door negotiations over a package deal to raise the national debt limit by Aug. 2 and begin spending cuts to tame the $14.2-trillion national debt, up 35% since Obama's inauguration. Obama maintains a deal must include new revenues to cover the rising costs of government.
Having Chicago connections appears to be useful for obtaining the maximum $172,200 salary from the Illinois ex-state senator Obama, who is paid $400,000 a year, almost twice the amount paid to Joe Biden for doing whatever he does. But he's only from Delaware.
The top paychecks include:
Chief of Staff William Daley, who is the brother of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who just retired and left the top Democratic-machine job there to Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama's chief of staff and before that held the Chicago House seat of Rod Blagojevich, who had given it up to become governor of Illinois, which he no longer is due to impeachment and, now, conviction on 17 counts of fraud.
The Daleys' father, Richard J. Daley, was also a longtime Chicago mayor whose operatives provided Illinois' crucial electoral votes to elect John F. Kennedy president back in 1960 before Obama was born.
Valerie Jarrett has a White House title as long as Chicago's winters (senior advisor and assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs and public engagement). Before this, she was a chief of staff for the most recent Mayor Daley and hired an assistant named Michelle Robinson, who went on, of course, to become Mrs. Barack Obama, whose chief of staff also earns the top $172G paycheck.
This year, the one before Obama's attempted reelection, he reduced his staff by 15 people and $1.7 million.
Some White House aides have already returned to Chicago as campaign employees, including political strategist David Axelrod, who helped elect the most recent Mayor Daley, as well as, briefly, Sen. Obama and then President Obama. Axelrod also made the top salary when he had to live in Washington.
Complete list of 2011 White House staff and their current salaries
41 Obama aides owe the IRS $831,000 in back taxes
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