Contrary to urban legend, Michelle Obama was not thrifty. At least not when it came to spending taxpayer dollars. But thanks to our new First Lady, Melania Trump, Americans no longer have to pay Michelle’s over-inflated payroll costs.
While Melania continues to embrace a busier public role as the first lady, Melania is running a tight ship in the East Wing. According to White House personnel reports, Melania has significantly reduced the number of aides on the first lady’s office payroll in comparison to Michelle Obama.
During husband Barack Obama’s first year in office, Michelle had a staff of 16. Combined, they earned a total of $1.24 million a year. As of June, Melania has just four staff members who earn a total of $486, 700. Unlike her predecessor, Mrs. Trump has no need to surround herself with staffers to look relevant.
Per the annual report the White House sends to Congress, there are additional staff members not listed as specific to the first lady. Nevertheless, there is still a major gap in the numbers. Michelle had a total of 24 employees while Melania on the other hand, has just nine. The change, says Melania’s spokeswoman, is deliberate.
“As with all things that she does, she is being very deliberate in her hiring, focusing on quality over quantity,” communications director Stephanie Grisham said in an email. “It is important to her that the team is a good fit for what she wants to accomplish as first lady… She also wants to be mindful and responsible when it comes to taxpayer money.”
A Historical Difference
As it turns out, Melania has been far more conscientious about taxpayer money than several former first ladies. Even though Michelle broke the record with her large staff, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush weren’t far behind. They had a staff of 19 and 18, respectively.
First lady historian, Andrew Och, also sees a distinct difference between Melania and her more recent predecessors. “She is more like a Pat Nixon or a Bess Truman than a Hillary Clinton or a Michelle Obama,” said Och, who was a producer for C-SPAN’s “First Ladies: Influence and Image” series.