Obama's comment about Gibbs' 'modest pay' draws fire
President Obama and Robert Gibbs, dealing with the debt ceiling.
CAPTION By J. Scott Applewhite, AP
President Obama is taking a little heat for a comment he made about outgoing spokesman Robert Gibbs.
No, it's not criticism of Gibbs -- it concerns his salary.
"He's had a six-year stretch now where basically he's been going 24/7 with relatively modest pay," Obama told The New York Times.
Gibbs makes $172,200 a year.
Writing on The Atlantic website, James Warren said Obama's 'relatively modest' comment "suggested a slight case of tone deafness."
Gibbs "earns $172,200 in a nation where the average family income hovers around $55,000, unemployment is high, record foreclosures persist and wages for most folks are at best stagnant," Warren wrote.
Ed O'Keefe of The Washington Post also weighed in, noting that Obama's financial analysis comes "at a sensitive moment, as rank and file federal workers earning various sums begin a two-year pay freeze."
Chris Edwards, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, told the Post that "high-level staffers like Gibbs will go on to earn very high pay in the private sector as lobbyists, so we shouldn't shed tears about their supposedly 'modest pay' in government."
Others noted that -- given the hours that Gibbs puts in, and the demands of his job -- $172,200 isn't that much, especially when compared with peers in the private sector.