Insight News

Feb 12th

Who among us is getting paid?

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Most candidates don't seek high elected or appointed government posts with the sole intention of becoming rich from government job salaries.  Compensation for such offices as the U.S. president and other post is very generous when compared with the average American's salary.

The current salary for United States President is $400,000.  But, being President has done wonders for Barack Obama’s personal wealth. Even though his official salary - pro-rated to reflect earnings from his first 345 days in office - amounted to $374,460, Mr. Obama declared a total income for 2009 of more than $5.5 million.  Obama’s tax returns showed an adjusted gross income of $5,505,409 in 2009 – mostly from best-selling book sales. The Obamas owed $1,792,414 on that.

The President and First Lady’s total gross income was $5,623,690. That included $374,460 in wages, $13,473 in interest, $12,018 in dividends and $4,230 in other income. Nearly $5.2 million was from book royalties.  The Presidential bestsellers are: "Dreams from My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."  The first book - about Obama's early life and his struggle to find a racial identity - earned about $3.3 million in 2009.  “Audacity” a more policy-oriented book, brought in $2.3 million.  Obama, a former law school instructor and U.S. senator, became a millionaire a few years ago.  He earned about $4 million in royalties in 2007, the year he launched his presidential campaign.  The Obamas gave $329,100 to 40 different charities - $50,000 to the United Negro College Fund.  They donated his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize income to charity and paid $163,303 in Illinois state income taxes.  

Joe and Jill Biden aren’t so well-off.  The Vice President’s salary is $227,300.  He and his wife’s income was $333,182, on which they paid $71,147 to Uncle Sam. They gave $4,820 to charity and paid $13,897 in state income taxes.  The returns show that the Obamas made as much in charitable contributions as the Bidens earned in 2009.  Ten charities received contributions from Obama's Nobel cash.  Many are Foundations that provide scholarships for students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential.  The Obamas reduced their tax bite by putting $49,000 in a retirement plan.  Both the Bidens and Obamas live in public housing.  The White House has 132 rooms, 32 bathrooms, a movie theater, bowling alley, billiards room, tennis court, jogging track and putting greens.  The Bidens live in the official vice presidential residence at Number One Observatory Circle along Washington’s Embassy Row.

In New York, Governor David Patterson and wife Michelle reported income of $328,284 last year, up nearly $41,000 because of a pay bump the state's First Lady received from her employer, Emblem Health Services.  Paterson, under fire for interfering in a domestic violence case against a top aide, gave nearly $2,000 to charities for abused women in 2009.  As governor of Massachusetts, DeVal Patrick earned $140,650.  A former Coca-Cola General Counsel/Executive VP/Corporate Secretary, Patrick served on numerous corporate boards.

The average Congressional lawmaker is far wealthier than his or her typical constituent.  There are 237 millionaires in Congress.  Just one percent of Americans are millionaires, but 44 percent of the Members of Congress are; and they make sure they receive frequent pay raises.  Since 1989 a cost of living increase takes effect each year unless Congress votes against it.  Pay for the average member has more than doubled in the past 20 years. For example, the average salary in 1983 was $69,800 and $141,300 in 2000. However, if you were to adjust the 1983 salaries for inflation, members of Congress made $119,708 in 2000.  As of January 1, 2005, members of Congress make $162,100. The president pro tempore of the Senate and the majority and minority leaders of both houses are paid $180,100. The speaker of the House of Representatives makes $208,100. Reports show the least wealthy member of Congress is Florida Representative Alcee Hastings, whose net worth is calculated to be negative $4 million.

According to the US Census Bureau, the 2009 median household income in America was $50, 323. Asians and whites earned more than African Americans and Hispanics.

(William Reed –


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