Comparing the Net Worth of Barack Obama’s Cabinet to Donald Trump’s

Here’s some information I collected to compare the net worth of Barack Obama’s cabinet to President-elect Donald Trump’s.

Secretary of the Treasury

Obama: Jacob Lew $1.7M

Trump: Steve Mnuchin $40M

Difference: $38.3M

Secretary of Commerce

Obama: Penny Pritzker $2.4B

Trump: Wilbur Ross $2.5B

Difference: $1,000M

Secretary of Health & Human Services

Obama: Sylvia Mathews Burwell $3.5M

Trump: Tom Price $13M

Difference: $9.5M

Secretary of Transportation

Obama: Anthony Foxx $175K

Trump: Elaine Chao $22.8M

Difference: $22.625M

Secretary of Education

Obama: John King (still paying student loans)

Trump: Betsy DeVos $5.1B

Difference: $5.1B

Secretary of Housing & Urban Development

Obama: Julian Castro (earned $200K in 2013)

Trump: Ben Carson $10M

Difference: $9.8M

OVERALL DIFFERENCE: +$5,280,425,000 (for Trump’s nominations)

Disclosures: How I Created The Table

1. Many rich people have a range of net worth (for example many listings estimate a person’s net worth between $4 and $14 million), and I used the highest number on that spectrum for all persons.

2. I only compared positions in which Trump had made nominations.

3. I only compared positions in which each party’s net worth was readily available. Of note, many members of Obama’s team did not have net worth figures handily accessible, leading one to conclude that they don’t have much of it.

Inside the Numbers

To date, the cumulative difference in net worth between those in cabinet positions in Obama’s administration and those appointed by Trump is $5.28 billion (Trump’s team is worth more).

Betsy DeVos’ net worth alone accounts for $5.1 billion, so her wealth skews the numbers. Taking her money out of the equation, however, still leaves a net gain of over $180 million for Trump’s appointments.

To be fair, several in Obama’s cabinet are millionaires and one is even a billionaire (Penny Pritzker). John Kerry (secretary of state) is worth at least $199 million, Sally Jewell (secretary of interior) $25 million, and Thomas Vilsack (secretary of agriculture) $5.6 million. Kerry, Jewell, and Vilsack aren’t included in the chart because Trump has not appointed a counterpart.

To be fair again, many who are rumored for appointments by Trump are quite affluent. A brief list (in order of wealth):

  • Harold Hamm $15.3 billion
  • Todd Ricketts $1 billion
  • Mitt Romney $250 million
  • Steven Bannon $10 million (already appointed but not to a cabinet position)
  • Rudy Giuliani $45 million
  • Andrew Puzder $4.4 million

Draining the Swamp?

It is now unclear what President-elect Trump meant when he said that he would “drain the swamp.” Many thought it meant ridding Washington of rich people who held special interests. If this is the case, these appointments contrarily indicate a filling of the swamp far exceeding normal levels. His cabinet will be a rich group of people with agendas (here’s just one example). So who was Trump referring to when he said that he would “drain the swamp?” Democrats, maybe? Public servants?

One could argue that appointing the richest cabinet in the history of cabinets could widen the chasm between politicians and the people who elect them. The newly appointed decision makers are b/millionaires. Most voters are not.

Trump himself has a net worth of $3.7 billion.

The average medium income for a citizen of the United States of America is $55 thousand.

Let’s hope the billionaires keep in mind the interests of the thousandaires.