Thousands of defense industry workers earn more than Obama, Biden

By |
Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Secretary of Defense

Americans are paying thousands of defense industry workers and executives far more than President Obama or Vice President Biden earn in salary each year, according to a federal audit of Pentagon contractors and the salaries they pay workers.

At companies like Lockheed-Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, some workers earn nearly double the president's $400,000 annual pay and nearly triple the vice president's $230,700 salary, a shocking finding.

Taxpayers are paying the freight, though, because there is a federally-approved salary cap of $763,029 on what Pentagon contractors can pay workers, with executives mostly getting the top amounts. That salary cap has doubled since 1998 and is due to contractors claiming quality help is expensive.

Stunned by that finding from the Government Accountability Office, the White House is considering reducing that cap to the president's salary.

GAO reviewed employee compensation at 27 defense firms, about 7 percent of the industry. They found that 500 workers in that tiny group made more than the president, for a total of $180 million. Over 3,000 made more than Biden, for a total of $440 million.

The president's Office of Management and Budget said because the sample was so small, capping industry pay at $400,000 would likely save much more — possibly hundreds of millions or even billion — over the $180 million the GAO found.

But the Pentagon said that reducing salaries to just $400,000 would hurt employee recruiting and might even push some companies out of the defense industry.

For comparison, the Census Bureau said that in 2011, the median household income $50,054.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at