President Trump expanded the number of top advisers in the White House and raised their wages compared with his predecessor, President Obama, according to White House officials and government records.
The top salary Trump pays his White House aides is $179,700 a year, compared with $176,461 during Obama’s final year in office, according to information from a Trump spokeswoman and a report submitted to Congress last year by the Obama White House.
White House aides who earn nearly $180,000 – more than the basic salary paid most House and Senate lawmakers – include Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Counselor Kellyanne Conway, Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor Stephen Bannon, and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
“The bottom line is that we should be paying people a fair wage for their service to this country, but we should be doing it in the most effective and efficient manner,” Spicer said Thursday when asked about government compensation paid to employees at an independent agency located near the White House.
The president “is going to have a very, very tough look at how we’re operating government, how many positions [and] what people are getting paid,” Spicer continued. “The president understands that most Americans are out there working night and day trying to get by, and that Washington truly needs to respect the money that they spend.”
By law, presidents earn $400,000 a year, although Trump said a week after the election he would not take a salary because of his personal wealth, and would accept $1 a year. The median household income in the country is $53,889, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The president, whose staff structure is notable for competing power centers and opaque lines of authority, named at least 27 “assistants to the president,” according to a White House spokeswoman. After verifying a staff list with a Trump deputy, RealClearPolitics counted 28 senior advisers. Despite repeated questions over several weeks, White House aides did not iron out the discrepancy as of Thursday.
By law, the nation’s chief executive can appoint 25 senior advisers at the top federal pay scale set annually in the White House Office. Wages for “assistants to the president” are tied to the Office of Personnel Management’s Executive Level compensation ladder. Obama appointed 25 aides with the coveted “assistant to the president” title, which designates the senior-most level of authority under the president and vice president.