Yesterday, President Obama instituted a pay cap on bailed out businesses after it was revealed that Wall Street doled out an estimated $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. “If the taxpayers are helping you, then you’ve got certain responsibilities to not be living high on the hog,” he explained.
In what appears to be an attempt to call Obama a hypocrite, ABC’s Scott Mayerowitz “reports” today that the President also has a “lavish lifestyle.” Under the title: “Obama’s Perks: Private Jet, Chef Tax-Free,” ABC notes that Obama earns $400,000 dollars a year and even has a private jet:
The president makes $400,000 a year, but hasn’t received a raise from Congress since 2001. He also gets a $50,000 annual entertainment expense account (any unused money at the end of the year must go back to the Treasury.)
Then there is the use of two private jets, Boeing 747s better known as Air Force One. And of course the constant security details, drivers, a private chef, a country vacation estate and the rent-free use of a well-known, 132-room mansion called the White House. The president also used to have a yacht, until Jimmy Carter sold it.
As its evidence that “corporate America” is upset, ABC said that “some Wall Street bloggers” are angry with the compensation cap. But the article cited only one blogger, Dealbreaker.com, who — apparently poking fun at Sen. Claire McCaskill’s statement — remarked, “Some accountability needs to be put in place. We won’t have them kicking sand in the face of taxpayers any longer.” Dealbreaker.com also suggests charging rent for White House tenants.
Comparing the President to Wall Street CEOs is absurd. The “private jet” that Obama uses is Air Force One, which is used as a security precaution and necessary for the dozens of staff and press that accompany the President on every trip. Each use of the jet by the President is regarded as a “classified military operation” in order to ensure the President’s safety.
Furthermore, Obama’s salary is set by Congress (whose members are elected by the public). CEO compensation is decided internally within the company, usually by its board of directors. The problem with recent excessive CEO compensation was that executives receiving federal funds were still rewarded for failure with tens of millions of dollars from their companies.
The President, on the other hand, does not get a bonus for his performance, good or bad. Indeed, Presidents Bush and Obama earn the same salary. County Fair at Media Matters has more.