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America's CEO: Barack Obama

(AP Photo/Kirsty Wiggl)
Compared to America's top corporate CEOs, Barack Obama should get a raise. At $400,000 a year, his salary is less than half a percent of the $104-million compensation package reportedly received last year by the boss at Motorola, Sanjay K. Jha. And his company's "total return" was down 71 percent.

A survey of executive compensation published recently in the New York Times offers new insight into the salaries, bonuses, stock options and perks received in America's executive suites.

At federal bailout recipient Citigroup, CEO Vikram Pandit received a relatively modest salary last year of $958,333 – though he also got more than $37 million in stock and options. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Citigroup lost $8.29 billion.

The median annual compensation of the 200 CEOs at 198 public companies was about $8.4 million.

Now, no one runs for the White House for the pay. But the president of the United States is a CEO in his own right. He's got 300 million shareholders and an alternately compliant and irascible Congress that views itself as the Board of Directors.

If the U.S. government were a private corporation, it would make A.I.G. look well-managed and would have gone bankrupt years ago. Check the profit and loss statement. Barack Obama presides over an operation with a $4 trillion budget but just $2.1-trillion in revenue.

He's got nearly 2 million civilian employees and 1.4 million active-duty military. And he's got a massive National Debt that recently soared about $11 trillion. The Debt is increasing at the fastest rate in U.S. history. It ran up another trillion dollars in just the past six months.

If the U.S. Government had to issue a proxy statement, here's what you might find for:

America's CEO: Barack Obama

Salary: $400,000 a year plus expenses.

Room and board: 132-room mansion on 18 acres of prime, highly-maintained and protected real estate in the heart of the nation's capital. Includes: exercise room, outdoor pool and spa, dual-lane bowling alley, movie theater, putting green, tennis and basketball courts.

Other Perks: The finest fleet of executive aircraft in the world; operated and maintained by the U.S. Air Force including Boeing 747s, 757s and Gulfstream IIIs. In addition, a squadron of 19 U.S. Marine Corps helicopters available around the clock. Also, a fleet of heavily-armored limousines and other vehicles plus a small army of the best-trained bodyguards in the world.

Household Staff: About 90 residential staffers, including butlers, valets, housekeepers, a florist, five chefs and a chief usher who's a retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral.

United States Government

Employees: 1.9-million civilian employees; 1.4-million active-duty military.

Budget: $4.0-trillion

Revenue: $2.1-trillion

Deficit: $1.84-trillion (CBO)

Personal Data:

Born: August 4, 1961 in Honolulu. Father from Kenya, mother from Kansas.

Education: Elementary and secondary in Indonesia and Hawaii.

  • Undergraduate: Columbia University (New York), Class of '83.
  • Graduate: Harvard Law School, '91 (Magna cum laude)

    Job Experience: Community activist and attorney, Chicago, '91-95

  • Lecturer & Senior Lecturer: University of Chicago Law School, '92-'04
  • Illinois State Senator: '95-'03
  • United States Senate: '05-'09
  • 44th President of the United States: '09 – present


  • Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, 1995
  • The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, 2006

    Family: Married Michele Robinson, lawyer, October 18, 1992. Daughters Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7. Soon to acquire a family dog.

    Hobbies and Personal Interests: Basketball; daily workouts; occasional cooking and dancing.

    Notable Qualities: Orator (prefers Teleprompter); self-confidence (ran for U.S. president while junior senator from Illinois); a people person.

    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here.
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