The Cost of Feeding TOTUS

You can’t expect someone as busy as President Obama or Vice President Biden to write all of their own speeches. Speech writing is a fine art and can take up a lot of time. So who is it that feeds all of those glowing phrases into the teleprompters and what do they get paid for providing this service? The Washington Times has an interesting and frequently humorous look at the men (and women) behind the curtain.

The White House is spending tens of thousands of dollars on a public relations firm headed by Democratic image maker Michael Sheehan – once dubbed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as an “extraordinary media coach” who helped her master the teleprompter.

Mr. Sheehan’s firm, Sheehan Associates, could receive more than $100,000 under a current contract and has been providing occasional speech and consulting services to the White House since 2009, federal purchasing records show.

Although Mr. Sheehan has a reputation of helping politicians look good speaking in public, neither his firm nor its White House client has anything to say about the contracting arrangement. Sheehan Associates failed to respond to telephone and email inquiries about the hiring arrangement this week and last, as did the White House press office.

But it’s not just the POTUS laying out the big bucks for the TOTUS. The VPOTUS gets in on the action as well. A certain Jeff Nussbaum was approved for at least $100,000 starting in 2008 for speech writing duties associated with Joe Biden. And to provide more sauce for the goose, it was written up as a sole source federal contract. (This after Obama and Biden “pledged to end abuse of no-bid contracting and require competitive bidding on nearly all contract orders for more than $25,000.”) How did they justify that?

However, Mr. Carney said at the time that Mr. Nussbaum was able to “provide unique services where no other person can fulfill the contract requirements” and the White House needed extra speechwriting help. He said Mr. Nussbaum wrote up to six “important and substantial” speeches each month.

According to a 2010 payroll report, the White House employs seven speechwriters earning a combined $624,200. The team is led by Jonathan E. Favreau, the director of speechwriting, who earns $172,200, according to the report, which was released by the White House. Two other senior presidential speechwriters are paid $100,000 each. A pair of presidential speechwriters are paid $75,000 each, and a speechwriter and speechwriting assistant earn $60,000 and $42,000, respectively.

Mighty good work if you can get it.

UPDATE: No, Biden is not sourcing out “souls” and thank you to the many who alerted us to correct it.