Is the White House a Poor House?

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hoban's white house.png

Via Noam Scheiber and Matt Yglesias, I see the White House has posted its staff salaries (PDF). As Noam notes, just about all the big players -- Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, David Axelrod, Larry Summers etc -- top out with salaries of $172,200. That's nothing to scoff at, but as Matt says it's "hardly enough to put you in the stratosphere of the American economic elite."

And that's true. Nonetheless, I think it's important to realize that a job at the White House has value that extends beyond those immediate six figures. There is, for one, status: the White House can get away with paying less because it's a tremendous ego boost to work for the White House. On a somewhat more crass level, there's also the expected future benefit: The presidency of Harvard, say. Or a job at a hedge fund. Or both!

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I see that 28-year-old speechwriter Jon Favreau makes $172,200, and 28-year-old assistant to the president Reggie Love makes $102,000. That's a lot of money by just about any standard.


Photo: Architect James Hoban's original (I think?) sketch of the White House, from Wikimedia.
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Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. More

Conor Clarke is the editor, with Michael Kinsley, of Creative Capitalism, an economics blog that was recently published in book form by Simon and Schuster. He was previously a fellow at The Atlantic and an editor at The Guardian. He is also on Twitter.
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