It’s important to feel that the people who run the country know what the rest of us are going through. But the White House staff seems to live in a recession-proof world where the nation’s troubles appear only in charts and reports and must therefore take on a theoretical feel. Indeed, the latest evidence that Barack Obama’s White House is insulated from the sort of economic worries that other citizens feel so acutely right now comes in the annual release of White House salaries. (Michelle Malkin’s column on the apparently high number of purely political operatives on the taxpayer’s dime-another another gem embedded in the salary report-has already been noted.)
While most of us were worried about jobs and making ends meet in tough times, White House staffers were getting big fat raises. Gawker notes:
The last time we checked in on White House salaries, we found that an astonishing 75% of continuing staffers got raises from 2009 to 2010-a huge number given the fact that, according to compensation experts, most companies had skipped routine raises that year in reaction to the economic crisis that the White House was busy failing to solve. This time around-from 2010 to 2011-the ratio is a little less dramatic. Of the 270 White House staffers who have been there for more than a year, 146-or 54%-received raises. The average salary increase was 8%. If you look at only staffers who got raises, the average increase was twice that.
That’s a much bigger raise than the average white-collar worker got. According to a survey conducted last year by the human resources consulting firm Mercer, most firms were projecting a 3% increase in base pay for executives. White House workers did nearly three times as well. Overall, it should be noted, the White House’s salary budget contracted slightly, from $38.8 million to $37.1 million, largely because the number of staffers fell. The average salary also dropped from $82,721, or 65% above the median household income, to $81,765-or 65% above the median household income.
On a symbolic level this is bad. But it is more than symbolic. What kind of administration would send us the bill for their raises when we aren’t getting them? Well, the kind of administration that rails against corporate jets but would use Air Force One, for which we pay, on a 150-mile jaunt to Williamsburg, Va., in the midst of an economic downturn. And the same kind of president who looks eerily detached while joking (!) that the shovel-ready jobs the administration touted were not as shovel-ready as expected.
This kind of behavior is inconsiderate and out of touch. I also wonder if it doesn’t betray a belief that those in government are so special that they need not share our burdens.
We’re just here to pick up the tab.