Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

posted at 8:45 am on July 7, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

During his Twitter town hall, Barack Obama wanted to let Americans know that his administration feels the nation’s economic pain just like everyone else.  Why, his staff — well-paid as they are, with 21 of them making the maximum $172,200 per year — haven’t had a raise in more than two years, ever since Obama froze federal salaries in the first few months of his term:

But what I can do is to speak out forcefully for the principle that we can make these adjustments that are necessary during these difficult fiscal times, but do it in a way that preserves collective bargaining rights.  And certainly at the federal level where I do have influence, I can make sure that we make these adjustments without affecting people’s collective bargaining rights.

I’ll give you just one example.  We froze federal pay for federal workers for two years.  Now, that wasn’t real popular, as you might imagine, among federal workers.  On the other hand, we were able to do that precisely because we wanted to prevent layoffs and we wanted to make sure that we sent a signal that everybody is going to have to make some sacrifices, including federal workers.

By the way, people who work in the White House, they’ve had their pay frozen since I came in, our high-wage folks.  So they haven’t had a raise in two and a half years, and that’s appropriate, because a lot of ordinary folks out there haven’t, either.  In fact, they’ve seen their pay cut in some cases.

So no one at the White House has seen a salary increase in over two years?  Er, not quiteGawker’s John Cook did a little comparison between the published salary reports for the three cycles, and it turns out that more than half saw their salaries increase from 2010 to 2011 — and 75% got increases from 2009 to 2010:

The White House released its annual salary report last week, and as usual, it’s nice to work for Barack Obama: Most staffers who were there for more than a year got a salary bump. A bigger one than you did.

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.

So who’s telling the truth?  Hint: it’s not the master of Hope and Change.  First, not all White House salaries were frozen for two years.  Obama froze salaries of White House staff making over $100K two years ago, but the across-the-board federal freeze that impacts the rest of the staff didn’t take place until January 2011. That’s how economic adviser Matthew Vogel got an 82% pay increase (of $59,000 to $130,500) in 2010.  Vogel wasn’t the only one to get his income nearly doubled, but given how the economy has performed over the past two years, this particular raise seems … less than justified.

The freeze didn’t make much difference, anyway.  The staff got raises through a nifty little dodge: job title or description changes.  In some cases, though, the dodge got a little more sophisticated.  Michael Gottlieb quit his post of special assistant and associate counsel, only to take the job again — at a 14% increase in pay, from $114,000 to $130,500. Nearly everyone remaining at the White House has had a pay increase over the last two and a half years

Gawker’s story got this response from the White House.  Compare it to the categorical statement issued by Obama during his town hall, emphasis mine:

President Obama is committed to continuing to reduce costs in government, and that is why over the past year, the average salary of a White House employee went down, the total number of White House staffers went down, and the total amount spent on White House salaries went down. Pay increases were given for a variety of reasons, ranging from promotions to additional work responsibilities.

So no one at the White House has gotten pay increases, unless they deserved it, and sometimes even when they didn’t.  Those who continue to work at the White House have averaged an 8% increase in salary during this period, more than twice the rate in the private sector.  Only in the Obama administration can someone describe this as a “pay freeze.”

Update: Vogel’s raise was $59,000, not his previous salary, so I should have written “of” instead of “from”.  Thanks to DAbernathy89 on Twitter for the correction.

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Does the sun set in the West?

sandee on July 7, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Did Obama lie about …

Were his lips moving? Then the answer is Duh.

Dingbat63 on July 7, 2011 at 8:50 AM

Having your salary pretend frozen at $172,000.00 is a “sacrifice”?

forest on July 7, 2011 at 8:50 AM

He lies about everything. Of course he did.

Jaibones on July 7, 2011 at 8:51 AM

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

publiuspen on July 7, 2011 at 8:52 AM

I called this yesterday during the townhall. The man is a serial liar. And I’ll bet good money that most in the press don’t have a clue he was fibbing about this. Even if they did, they wouldn’t challenge him on it anyway.

Doughboy on July 7, 2011 at 8:52 AM

Vogel got an 82% pay increase (from $59,000 to $130,500) in 2010.

The math is wrong, this is 121% increase.

Rode Werk on July 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

President Obama is committed to continuing to reduce costs in government,

He has some swamp land in Alaska he wants to sell, too.

Beaglemom on July 7, 2011 at 8:54 AM

Hence, Dear Liar.

rbj on July 7, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Lying sack of corn-infused excrement.

Extrafishy on July 7, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Professor O’Barry goes for the geek vote and scores. It’s not about policies, it’s about coolness.

RCP still has the Great Pretender at 46% approval after all the damage he’s done.

Unbelievable!!!

NickDeringer on July 7, 2011 at 8:56 AM

I can’t recall him ever telling the truth. About anything.

Naturally Curly on July 7, 2011 at 8:56 AM

you lie!

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 8:57 AM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

Does a woodchuck chuck wood?

pilamaye on July 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

What does obama NOT

lie about?..

tinkerthinker on July 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

When you’ve lost Gawker…

JammieWearingFool on July 7, 2011 at 8:58 AM

He decreed no salary increases and he doesn’t actually sign the checks, so in his mind nobody got an increase. See how easy this is.

Kissmygrits on July 7, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

Do dogs chase cats?

pilamaye on July 7, 2011 at 8:59 AM

I have come to believe that ObaMao is incapable of telling the truth.

Slowburn on July 7, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Who cares what Obama said?

crr6 on May 24, 2011 at 12:13 PM

Del Dolemonte on July 7, 2011 at 8:59 AM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

Did the Little Pig cry WEE-WEE-WEE all the way home?

pilamaye on July 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

RCP still has the Great Pretender at 46% approval after all the damage he’s done.

Unbelievable!!!

NickDeringer on July 7, 2011 at 8:56 AM

I’ve said repeatedly, he can’t drop much further than that. Maybe the low 40′s. But with 12% of the electorate made up of black voters of whom 90+% will never turn on him, 75-80% of Democrats solidly in his corner, and at least some independents still believing his BS, it’s mathematically impossible for him to dip into the mid or low-30′s.

Doughboy on July 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

What? Obama lied? Why, I’m moitified I tells ya! Shocked & moitified!!! /sarc

Vntnrse on July 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

I wouldn’t begrudge this monkey business so much if all these staffers, and their ultimate boss, weren’t actively working to bring upon the destruction of the private sector and our way of life.

TXUS on July 7, 2011 at 9:00 AM

If the media never calls you on your lies, it isn’t lying. Duh.

Fallon on July 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Government employees never go without their raises.

Blake on July 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

Was his lips moving????

b1jetmech on July 7, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Fallon on July 7, 2011 at 9:01 AM

ding ding ding

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 9:04 AM

If you have to ask whether Obama lies with every breath, that puts you in the single digit IQ lemming class. Obama is incapable of the truth. Its a progressive thing.

volsense on July 7, 2011 at 9:09 AM

Everyone keeps forgetting that Obama is a classic Chicago Democrat Machine Politician, gifted with the ability of being able to speak out of both sides of his mouth and lie through his teeth at the exact same time.

pilamaye on July 7, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Was his lips moving????

b1jetmech on July 7, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Without even reading the facts I’ll just go with this.

Gang-of-One on July 7, 2011 at 9:12 AM

OT: judiciary committee investigating kagan and obamacare….tried to add a linky, but it isn’t going through

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 9:12 AM

He lies so much that when he actually tells the truth – that’s news

gophergirl on July 7, 2011 at 9:14 AM

Another Obama whopper re: tax rates.

Will the MSM call The One out?

visions on July 7, 2011 at 9:15 AM

21 of them making the maximum $172,200 per year

And this miserable little poseur wants to raise our taxes.

petefrt on July 7, 2011 at 9:16 AM

He may not be able to distinguish between the truth and a lie because of his chronic nature of telling untruths.

rplat on July 7, 2011 at 9:16 AM

visions on July 7, 2011 at 9:15 AM

rhetorical?

cmsinaz on July 7, 2011 at 9:17 AM

Did Obama lie?

Given his past track record, it’s just business as usual.

Or as Barry would say, ‘It’s only a lie when I say it’s a lie.”

GarandFan on July 7, 2011 at 9:18 AM

Professor O’Barry goes for the geek vote and scores. It’s not about policies, it’s about coolness.

NickDeringer on July 7, 2011 at 8:56 AM

Most of the tech savvy will see the douche that I saw: can’t type a 140 tweet, and can’t tell that John Boehner’s tweet contained characters that were flipped in the transfer.

He’s less tech savvy than George Bush. He’s a total dork.

Jaibones on July 7, 2011 at 9:20 AM

I pray the Republicans don’t blow it with “next in line” or social extreme Congresswomen they are slobbering to run against. This guy is so vulnerable.

Marcus on July 7, 2011 at 9:20 AM

You know the press is covering for him when he feels comfortable lying about things that are easily checked. He has absolutely no conscience whatsoever. The man is pathologically evil, plain and simple.

fossten on July 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Racists!

SouthernGent on July 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

Ah ha ha ha ha ha!!!

1) The check is in the mail
2) I won’t …
3) Any utterance by Obama.

turfmann on July 7, 2011 at 9:23 AM

He didn’t even use Twitter correctly. It’s not supposed to be uni-directional. He might as well have had his minions ask the questions.

kingsjester on July 7, 2011 at 9:24 AM

We’ve had a wage freeze at the place I work for several years. Oddly enough, there’s a group who’s title changes regularly and then they get a new car.

John Deaux on July 7, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Democrats lie all the time, because they know the press will cover for them. Period.

mankai on July 7, 2011 at 9:27 AM

He might as well have had his minions ask the questions.kingsjester on July 7, 2011 at 9:24 AM

Essentially he did just that.

Dingbat63 on July 7, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Don’t forget, at some point, he feels that you’ve made enough money. /

revolutionismyname on July 7, 2011 at 9:33 AM

Racists!

[SouthernGent on July 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM]

Terrorists, too!

Dusty on July 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I remember when the media assured us that everything the President said was a lie, even when it wasn’t, and explained to us that this was because he was so stupid.

But now they assure us that everything the President says is the truth, even when it isn’t, and explain to us that it is because he is so brilliant.

Where would we be without the valiant media guardians of out right to know just how wonderful Obama is?

drunyan8315 on July 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Of course he lied. The twit-in-chief that ushered in the “new era of civility” also said something about not using the debt ceiling “as a gun against the heads of the American people.”

Speechlesstx on July 7, 2011 at 9:48 AM

is, was, shoulda, coulda…enough with the splitting of hairs. He WON, ok??? LET BARACK ALOOOOOOONE!

hoosiermama on July 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM

I’m so tired of people calling Obama a liar!!

They are Unicorn Wishes, and if you don’t know the difference, well than you are a hater.

Hening on July 7, 2011 at 10:02 AM

“Freeze” does not mean what you think it does.

faraway on July 7, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Obscene salaries during a never-ending recession, prevaricating about pay raises (and everything else), side-stepping or not answering questions, the pathetic attempt at hipness at a 140-byte-per-thought-short-attention-span fest for the mind-numbed youth of this American Idol public..

..I just want to vomit.

The War Planner on July 7, 2011 at 10:21 AM

Little Bammie’s entire claim of a federal pay freeze is total BS, a complete lie. All that he eliminated (for two years) are the cost-of-living adjustments. Federal employees still are getting bonuses, step increases (a raise for just being in the job another year), and promotion increases.

Federal Pay Freeze Plan Wouldn’t Stop Raises

Why bonuses when the country is on the edge of default? Why not a total hiring freeze? Study after study shows that federal employees are overpaid, over-benefited, and over-pensioned. Cut all those sources of spending.

slickwillie2001 on July 7, 2011 at 10:33 AM

So does Obama tweeting on Twitter . . . make him a twit???

tpitman on July 7, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Are you saying that our President is a liar? No! He only lies when he opens his mouth.

Christian Conservative on July 7, 2011 at 10:49 AM

Can we start claiming a secondary verification on everything this administration claims? With the ability to toss red challenge flags every time he appears like the NFL? Just a limit of four or so per event. Better than a boring speech by a Republican afterward.

IlikedAUH2O on July 7, 2011 at 11:45 AM

“Matthew Vogel got an 82% pay increase (of $59,000 to $130,500) in 2010.” Correct arithmetic is a 221% increase (new divided by old.)

johncorn on July 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM

I hate Obama. I thought I disliked Clinton and his double-speak, but I really, truly, loath Obama.

Hey, jacka**! I had my pay frozen for three whole years. And then my job was eliminated. So don’t tell me about how haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaard it is on White House workers to be making ooooooooooooooonly a hundred and seventy two freakin’ K and not be getting a raise (unless they want it, of course).

crazy_legs on July 7, 2011 at 12:27 PM

I SO can’t wait for his pants to light on fire.

Sponge on July 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM

The hyenna and his little ones

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2011 at 12:50 PM

He has become creepy.

pat on July 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

That was the Twit Conference.

Does Obama lie? Did the sun rise in the East?

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Obama has a LOTUS? (Laptop of the United States)

scotash on July 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

He has become creepy.

pat on July 7, 2011 at 12:51 PM

He’s always been a creep.

Schadenfreude on July 7, 2011 at 12:52 PM

I can see the next GEICO commercial: “Can GEICO really save you 15% on your car insurance? Does the President lie? Yep.”

ConservativeinCO on July 7, 2011 at 3:33 PM

Did Obama lie about White House salaries in Twitter town hall?

This is a joke, right, Ed. I mean. . . what else does this bumbling fool do?

RedNewEnglander on July 7, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I don’t care. Obama is awesome!

/sarc/

Solaratov on July 7, 2011 at 7:52 PM