'Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out for her secretary; things have changed!'
August 04, 2009
First Lady Michelle Obama
The first lady of the United States is not elected, has no constitutional duties and receives no salary, but that doesn't mean the position is without its privileges – including a staff of 22 White House employees who make a combined nearly $1.5 million per year.
Various journalists have scoured the White House's annual report to Congress on the West Wing payroll and listed those names that serve as members First Lady Michelle Obama's staff. Combined, their salaries total $1,495,700.
By comparison, a similar examination of the 2008 payroll, printed in the Washington Post, shows First Lady Laura Bush tallied 17 staffers, who combined made roughly $1.28 million.
News of so many taxpayer-funded salaries attending the first lady – which doesn't include the White House servant staff or the Secret Service detail assigned to the first family – has prompted some commentators to question if so many staffers are necessary.
"[Michele Obama] doesn't perform any official duties. But this hasn't deterred her from hiring an unprecedented number of staffers to cater to her every whim and to satisfy her every request in the midst of the Great Recession," writes author Paul Williams in a July 7 editorial. "Mary Lincoln was taken to task for purchasing china for the White House during the Civil War. And Mamie Eisenhower had to shell out the salary for her personal secretary. How things have changed!".....