Saturday, November 13, 2010

Obama Freeze On White House Salaries All Smoke and Mirrors

Is it ok for the President to deliberately mislead the American people on faux belt tightening actions concerning salaries and raises at the White House? And why did it take so long for anyone to notice yet another bogus pledge from this administration, in general and this President, in particular? Whom do we thank for some forced White House transparency about his story? Gawker. Yes, Gawker.

Earlier this week, USA Today published an analysis of the federal workforce showing that it pays to work for the government: The number of feds earning more than $150,000 per year has increased tenfold since 2005, and the number earning above $180,000 has increased twentyfold. That prompted us to take a look at White House salaries, and it turns out that working for Barack Obama is not a bad gig.

Obama famously instituted a salary freeze for all White House staffers earning more than $100,000 on his first day in office because "during this period of economic emergency, families are tightening their belts, and so should Washington."

But there wasn't a lot of belt-tightening for the rest of the staff: We crunched the numbers and found that, of the 344 White House employees who were listed on the payroll in both White House's 2009 and 2010 salary reports, 253—or 74%—got raises in 2010. And among that lucky overwhelming majority, the average raise was 9%. And plenty of people making more than $100,000 a year did get a raise as long as a title change came with it.

Just change the job title. The raises followed. Smoke and mirrors, alive and well with Team Obama. Anyone else insulted just a bit by this arrogance and deception? To be fair, the White House has a comment:

Nick Shapiro, the charming young man from the White House who offered comment for this story—and got an $18,000 raise last year offered this response:

White House raises on average were 3% not the inaccurately reported 9%. People who got entirely new jobs, not uncommon after the first year of a new administration got new salaries, which were on average 6% higher than the salary of their previous job. In fact, on his first day in office, President Obama instituted a pay freeze for all staff making over $100k, and none of these folks received any raise whatsoever. In addition, in the President's FY 2011 budget he included a pay freeze for all senior political appointees across the entire Administration. It is not uncommon in the second year of a new administration for many low level staffers to change positions and move up the ranks to hold new jobs with increased responsibilities. President Obama is committed to continuing to reduce costs in government while providing high-quality services to the American people.

Everyone feel better now? Yeah, me neither.

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