If the White House payroll is a leading indicator of the president’s commitment to shrink government then voters have a reason to cheer. Projected four-year savings on the White House payroll could top $22 million. Savings come from President Trump’s refusal to take a salary as well as big reductions in other areas including the absence of czars, expensive "fellowships," and spending on FLOTUS staff.
On Friday, the Trump administration released their annual report to Congress on White House Office Personnel. It includes the name, status, salary and position title of all 377 White House employees. (Search
the recent Trump administration payroll data – and last two-years of the Obama administration - posted at OpenTheBooks.com.)
Here are some key findings:
- There are 110 fewer employees on White House staff under Trump than under Obama at this point in their respective presidencies.
- $5.1 million in payroll savings vs. the Obama FY2015 payroll. In 2017, the Trump payroll amounts to $35.8 million for 377 employees, while the Obama payroll amounted to $40.9 million for 476 employees (FY2015).
- Nineteen fewer staffers are dedicated to The First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS). Currently, there are five staffers dedicated to Melania Trump vs. 24 staffers who served Michelle Obama (FY2009).
- Counts of the "Assistants to the President" – the most trusted advisors to the president - are the same (22) in both first-year Trump and Obama administrations. In the Trump White House, Steven Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Omarosa Manigault, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer and 17 others make salaries of $179,700. In Obama’s first-year, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel and twenty others held the title with top pay of $172,000.
- The highest compensated White House Trump staffer? Mark House, Senior Policy Advisor, has a salary of $187,500. Mr. House is "on detail" from a federal agency which allows him to exceed the top pay-grade of $179,700. In Obama’s Administration (2009), David Marcozzi earned $193,000 "on detail" from Health and Human Services.
Our review of the Trump White House payroll confirms five staffers dedicated to First Lady Melania Trump. Highly criticized
for her twenty-four assistants, advisors, schedulers, directors, deputies, advance aides, associates, social and press secretaries and other helpers, former First Lady Michelle Obama’s staff was only slightly larger than Laura Bush’s staff of eighteen.
These five White House employees serving
First Lady Melania Trump include:
- Lindsay Reynolds, Chief of Staff to the First Lady ($179,700);
- Stephanie Grisham, Director of Communications for the First Lady ($115,000);
- Anna Niceta, Social Secretary ($115,000)
- Timothy Tripepi, Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations for the First Lady ($115,000);
- Mary-Kathryn Fisher, Deputy Director of Advance for the First Lady ($77,000).
Starting in 2009, President Obama came under fire for hiring special initiative czars. We found no evidence of "czars" on Trump’s payroll. Examples of these White House czars included Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner ($172,000), Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois ($98,000), White House Director of Urban Affairs Adolfo Carrion Jr ($158,500), and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform Nancy-Ann DeParle ($158,500).
Starting in 2015, President Obama instituted a new fellowship – a White House Leadership Development program. In the initial class of sixteen candidates, at least one was placed on detail (from IRS) at the White House – Elaine Ho – at a salary of $158,700. Ho’s assignment? Working with the Office of the First Lady to implement
her "Let Girls Learn" initiative. Two "Directors" were also on payroll: Pamela Coleman ($120,000) and Katherine Pielemeier ($60,876). We found no evidence that Trump continued these programs.
Two key advisors to the president, Gary Cohn and Christopher Liddell, serve with reduced salaries of only $30,000 – the lowest salaries of all staff. Cohn is the former President of Goldman Sachs and current Director of the White House National Economic Council. Liddell is the Director of Strategic Initiatives in the White House and a former Microsoft Chief Financial Officer.
While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump vowed to forego his paycheck. However, Article II of the United States Constitution mandates a presidential salary. In the first quarter, President Trump donated his pay to the Dept. of Interior for construction and repair needs at military cemeteries.
Refusing a salary for work in government is commendable and the Trump family is leading by example. Ivanka Trump (First Daughter and Presidential Advisor) and Son-in-Law Jared Kushner (Senior Advisor) both refused a salary.
At the nation’s founding, Ben Franklin said, "Diligence is the mother of good luck." Although the White House personnel budget is an infinitesimal part of the $3.9 trillion federal budget, it could be a leading indicator of Trump’s commitment to cut waste, fraud and taxpayer abuse.