Exactly who ‘makes enough money’ in Obama’s eyes?

“I do think,” you may have heard President Barack Obama say about a group of Americans last week, “at a certain point you’ve made enough money.”

And if you hadn’t heard it before now, you may be wondering who he was talking about.

Perhaps he was speaking to Hollywood — producer/directors such as George Lucas or Steven Spielberg, who were paid $170 million and $150 million, respectively, according to Forbes magazine’s 2009 list. Less generous, but still better than I and probably you, were Jerry Bruckheimer at $100 million and Atlanta’s Tyler Perry at $75 million. Or actors such as Harrison Ford ($65 million) or Adam Sandler ($55 million).

Then again, he might have been talking to America’s television stars. Dr. Phil (McGraw) pulled down $80 million, Forbes reports. Simon Cowell of “American Idol” was close behind at $75 million. And there’s Oprah, our highest-paid celebrity, at $275 million.

But Oprah is one of the president’s biggest backers, so let’s forget the big and little screens and turn to musicians. For all the challenges to that industry, Madonna managed to bring home $110 million. There’s Beyonce Knowles at $87 million; Bruce Springsteen, $70 million; Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews Band, $65 million each; and a cool $60 million for the band Rascal Flatts.

I could mention athletes, but Tiger Woods was in a class of his own at $110 million (a figure he won’t match this year).

Oh, wait — maybe the operative words are “at a certain point”; Obama must have been talking about dead celebrities! It’s been half a century since Rodgers & Hammerstein put out a new musical, but their estates saw $235 million in new earnings. The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, with $90 million, and the King of Rock ’n’Roll, Elvis Presley, with $55 million, also did not do poorly posthumously.

Now, if you think it would have been odd for President Obama to scold celebrities in this way, you’re right. He was talking instead about businessmen – specifically, those who work in finance. Want to guess how many chief executives of financial companies in 2009, according to Forbes, earned as much as the 20 celebs I’ve listed here?

How about none?

In fact, the $2.4 billion in total earnings of the 100 highest-paid CEOs, regardless of industry, barely beat out the $2.1 billion of the twenty-five best-compensated celebs (living ones, that is). Just seven of those 100 CEOs worked in the financial industry.

I don’t begrudge Beyonce, Spielberg or Tiger — or the head of JP Morgan — the pay they receive. Nor do I begrudge Obama his $5.5 million in 2009 income — again, more than I and probably you.

So why does the president begrudge the same to others?

He claims that he doesn’t. The full quote from his Wednesday speech in Quincy, Ill., was:

“I want to be clear, we’re not trying to push financial reform because we begrudge success that’s fairly earned. I mean, I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. But part of the American way is you can just keep on making it if you’re providing a good product or you’re providing a good service. We don’t want people to stop fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow the economy.”

The second sentence is the one that defines “fairly earned” for Obama. The man who as a candidate spoke of “spreading the wealth around” has found a matter he considers within his pay grade: other people’s pay.

256 comments Add your comment


April 30th, 2010
9:00 pm

Kyle you dip wad you read something and see something that is not even there. “Success that’s fairly earned” means quit being dishonest, but I guess the crowd you run with that means screw as many people as you can out of as much as you can, and the talk about how smart and honest you are.


April 30th, 2010
9:30 pm

Great Article! Hey jb, the next question is, “Who gets to decide what “success that’s fairly earned” means? You? Me? The President? It’s NONE of any of our businesses what other people make. Unfortunately, busy bodies on the left don’t think ANY income about what they decree is enough, is earned fairly no matter HOW it was earned.

The problem as I see it, is that celebrities who are CLEARLY overpaid get a pass from the President and the press while those in banking and finance get demonized when they only make a fraction of what the celebrities do.


April 30th, 2010
9:33 pm

I don’t hear those hollywooders and sports stars bitching, so why are you?

Velter Whitfield

April 30th, 2010
9:53 pm

Typical left wing goat plop. The looters steal from the producers and hand over to the moochers.

godless heathen

April 30th, 2010
10:17 pm

Obama has made enough money without ever holding a real job. jb: you think Obama’s fortune was “fairly earned”?

Mark C

April 30th, 2010
10:23 pm

You seem to have a hard time distinguishing between CEO’s and the people on Wall Street. Mostly they aren’t the same people. For example, David Tepper, formerly of Goldman Sachs, pulled down $4 billion in 2009 from managing his hedge fund. That’s right. One guy. One year. $4 BILLION. How did he do it? Largely by betting that the government wouldn’t let the banks fail. In other words, the whole too-big-to-fail thing.

Mark C

April 30th, 2010
10:30 pm

Also, either your reading comprehension skill are really poor, or you’re dishonest in your interpretation of the quote. He says “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money. ****BUT*** part of the American way is that you can just keep on making it…”

In other words, he’s not personally interested in money past a certain point (which should be obvious since he’s spent his professional life in public service) BUT the American way is that you can keep on if you want to.

Your argument is fundamentally dishonest.

Michael H. Smith

April 30th, 2010
10:59 pm

We don’t want people to stop fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow the economy.

Obumer does begrudge success, as most on the liberal socialist left do. His words in this part of his statement defies his actions.

Now probably no one bothered to actually read any of Obumer’s little speech, Kyle. But, buried in that little oratory jewel of his, he admits to stopping people from fulfilling the core responsibilities of the financial system to help grow the economy, by nationalizing student loans. Of course, nationalizing student loans is not one more step into socialism, now is it? I mean, banks don’t actually make money off of loans as in the old days of capitalism that pays for employees and dividends to shareholders, right?

Oh but what the hay, dear leader comrade Obumer justifies it all in the name of saving us a butt-load of money.

So now Big Obumer GUB’MENT owns Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and Sallie Mae.


April 30th, 2010
11:04 pm

I wonder how many people all those celebs employ? Obama’s comment was for the benefit of the class warfare crowd. He’s a democrat…it’s all they’ve got.

jb said: …I guess the crowd you run with that means screw as many people as you can out of as much as you can, and the talk about how smart and honest you are.

Have you been running with Tiger Woods, Kyle? Madonna?

Michael H. Smith

April 30th, 2010
11:22 pm

Here’s a little bit of Obumer’s “Social Justice” at work for you, Kyle: You know how he always speaks so passionately about FAIRNESS when it comes to paying PROGRESSIVE taxes and how the RICH should pay a little – BIG – amount more because they can afford it.

Now this is a real true life story about a very wealthy successful living fellow American who gives 100% of his income to charity – that means he gives it away to the “Under Privileged” and the “Less Fortunate” of our society – and because he gives away 100% of his income to charity the IRS a.k.a. Big GUB’MENT, makes him pay a 50% tax penalty on the 100% amount of income that he is giving away to charity.


April 30th, 2010
11:33 pm

You are so full of S#i$…….stop twisting…stop The BS
seriously when will we on the right learn some decency and honesty ?
and please……get a new pic……..you look every bit of the spoiled rich white boy that you are.

Michael H. Smith

April 30th, 2010
11:38 pm

Now that was a very twisted unintelligent comment to say the least.

Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
12:03 am


Denationalize housing finance

As a result of federal adjustments to the traditional benchmarks for who can really afford to buy homes, the FHA now accounts for more than 25% of new lending, up from 2% in 2006. The FHA has insured a whopping $400 billion in mortgages since Fannie and Freddie were nationalized in 2008. In 2006, the FHA underwrote only $55 billion in mortgages and has since grown sevenfold. To the extent the FHA can’t cover the tab, other public backing waits. On Christmas Eve, Fannie and Freddie were quietly given an unlimited new ceiling on their debt.

Home loans with the lowest levels of borrower equity (loans with the highest “loan-to-value ratios”) accounted for 23% of all mortgage originations in 2009, compared with only 17% in 2006. Many high-risk loans in 2006 were packaged into securities that later were deemed toxic or contributed to the tanking of Fannie and Freddie. What will flow from the latest wave of high-risk lending? Perhaps another bailout, this time of the FHA, which in November belatedly revealed that it has a slender half-percent in reserve — a dangerously thin cushion. But it’s a nationalized industry, so who cares?


Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
12:06 am


GLENN BECK: So how is it not reasonable? I called a good friend of mine, Jon Huntsman, Sr. –- he’s an industrialist and the guy who invented the, you know, plastic fork and spoon and Styrofoam cup. I mean, he’s given America so much.

He’s a philanthropist now. He pays 150 percent in income – he pays 50 percent in income tax and gives away his income. He has to pay a higher rate of income tax because in this country, if you give away 100 percent, they charge you 50 percent because something must be up, OK?



May 1st, 2010
12:24 am

Who cares “who makes enough” in Obama’s eyes! It doesn’t matter. If you don’t like our tax code, vote for people who will change it. If you continue to vote for the morons still in office in Washington, then you WILL continue to get more of the same. Party affiliation does not matter this time. As a side note, demand term limits for all congress folks and senators. It’s the only way to help reign in corruption. Also…outlaw professional lobbying at the federal and state levels. The positive changes we will see as a result would be enormous.

Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
12:34 am

As a footnote to the side note: Get rid of 2/3 of the bureaucrats(public trough feeders) and their bureaucracy(the public trough) and you really see a change we can believe in. Politicians come and go but the bureaucrats and their bureaucracy remains growing forevermore the same.


May 1st, 2010
12:59 am

Yet another load of lies from wingfield, and from the right.
Obama never held a job, godless heathen? Does being a constitutional law professor for 12 years not count?
He doesn’t say that once you’ve earned a certain amount, you don’t deserve any more…he’s saying that even if you are rich, you can get wealthier if you want, BUT THAT YOU SHOULD DO IT LEGALLY AND ETHICALLY.
There’s no talk of redistributing wealth, forced income caps for those who haven’t received gov’t bailouts, or anything like that.
I guess all you rabid righties have conveniently forgotten that Obama GAVE AWAY HIS $1,000,000
He talks the talk and walks the walk, but all you righties who take, and make up, any chance to denigrate (look it up) him can only talk in Faux News talking points and other varieties of lies and B.S.
You people should be ashamed of yourselves, but you have no shame.

Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
1:45 am

There’s no talk of redistributing wealth

On that one you should be ashamed. Obumer spoke very clearly to redistributive wealth when he campaigned for the Presidency.

The angry lefties spewing lies and hate at those on the right who call Obumer on his statements and actions, which reveal what is truly being denigrated upon every opportunity.

Legend of Len Barker

May 1st, 2010
1:54 am

Madonna hasn’t been hanging around the White House and saying that she needs money to keep afloat while she’s living her uber-mansion.

There is a difference between people shelling out money to be entertained by a celebrity and CEO taking your investment and entertaining himself as your expense.

Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
1:57 am

There is a difference between people shelling out money to be entertained by a celebrity and CEO taking your investment and entertaining himself as your expense.

Very true.

Michael H. Smith

May 1st, 2010
2:31 am

The only thing worse than CEOs’ taking our investments and entertaining themselves at our expense is the Big GUB’MENT trough feeders at the SEC and FTC who we paid to stop CEOs’ from swindling us that sit around entertaining themselves at our additional expense while these crooks rob us blind. Now Congress wants to hire another heard of do nothing trough feeders like those at the SEC and FTC to take more of our money?

Think Madonna can watch over the financial sector, at least she does have some entertainment value left.

Missed Something

May 1st, 2010
5:37 am

I must have missed something. I didn’t know that Madonna and Beyonce’s would be allowed to get a financial bailout like the banks. If they are eligible, we should regulate them too.

Gerald West

May 1st, 2010
6:26 am

You joined the demagogues on this one, Kyle!

You quoted half a sentence, then misconstrued it. President Obama was referring to greed, to the behavior of the financial industry executives who have unlimited power to plunder the assets of their companies, but can never get enough.

You should apologize to your readers: you insulted the intelligence of those who have some, and needlessly riled up those who haven’t any.

Lil' Barry Bailout

May 1st, 2010
6:47 am

President Obama was referring to greed, to the behavior of the financial industry executives who have unlimited power to plunder the assets of their companies

If you have a problem with financial industry executives’ pay, don’t invest your money with them.

And don’t support the Idiot Messiah’s “reform” bill that promises taxpayer bailouts and a $50 billion slush fund to prop up politically favored firms.

Don’t you find it just a little bit curious that Goldman Sachs supports the Idiot Messiah’s financial “reform”?

No, of course you don’t, because you’re a mind-numbed Obama acolyte.

Chris Broe

May 1st, 2010
7:12 am

Nobody likes paying taxes. Campaign promises always play to a voter’s fiscal policy aversions. I hope that the Wingfields keep addressing credibility-neutralizing issues like Obama’s campaign slogans Punditry itself is on a four year loop that has been recycling since the 1804 Jefferson campaign.

The Wingnuts have been out of material for a long time. You can read their blogs or not, and still be up-to-date on their patience-taxing prattle.

After all, it writes itself.

My kingdom for a different part of a horse.


May 1st, 2010
7:31 am


Did you hear the news. Tiger Woods lost a key sponsor and it caused the economy to crash due to naked shorts that Goldman had taken out on him, right after Goldman paid two dozen hookers millions to seduce him and then go public with the information. Blankfein was overheard saying afterward that if Tiger had been doing God’s work, like he does, then all of this could have been avoided.


May 1st, 2010
7:49 am

Kyle, this is just more of the same Tweedle-Dee vs. Tweedle Dumb nonsense. I will say that while both the entertainment-industrial complex and the financial-industrial complex benefit from the faux free market (regulation, de-regulation, tax incentives, etc.), I can choose to see a Spielberg or Lucas flick, or watch or not watch American Idol or Oprah, but I cannot not have a bank account. I cannot buy or sell a home without the blessing of a bank. Most of the Hollywood types you cite are essentially (self-absorbed) narcissistic entreprenuers, whereas the CEO’s of most banks are thieves, who do not answer to the market or shareholders when it comes to compensation. At the end of the day, you are correct, the market should determine a person’s “worth” in terms of compensation, but as I said, the market has been rigged for years and the idea that it is “free” is a joke. When Spielberg or Lucas prouce a bomb, they are not bailed out by taxpayers.

Real American

May 1st, 2010
8:27 am

Is Kyle defending the Goldman Sachs thieves now?


May 1st, 2010
8:49 am

What is the point of the column?

The issue is whether we do some additional regulation of the financial industry or leave things as they are now.

Personally I have always been in favor of some regulation. I put my money in a bank. I expect regulations to be in place to prevent the bank president from taking my money and going to Vegas and bet it all at the blackjack table.

The Bush administration said something akin to blackjack was a problem in the fall of 2008 and asked for, and received, a $750 billion package to “save the economy”, as they put it. I would like to see some regulations so that a future president, say Romney, Palin or Brown
will not feel the need to ask for another $750 billion.


May 1st, 2010
8:55 am

The authors point is linked to the questions the Left will never answer; just exactly who are “the rich”, and just exactly how high does the Left want to raise the tax rates. They won’t answer the first question because the ugly truth is that the Left MUST reach deep into the middle class if they’re to raise the gargantuan amount of tax revenue in order to achieve european-style socialism. The won’t answer the second question because there truly is no upper limit to the tax rates for the Left; there will ALWAYS be more “great” govt programs necessitating just one more teensy tax hike. The blunt truth is the Left will never stop pushing for tax hikes until we’ve literally got absolute income equality…and that of course if a pipe dream which will/can never happen.


May 1st, 2010
9:09 am

someone up above sounds every bit the whiney racist black btch, that I think they probably are


May 1st, 2010
9:14 am

And I will defend the Mortgage Bankers..because this is my philosophy..caveat Emptor..

If I can sell you a product that isn’t expressly illegal, I HAVE NO duty to make sure its good for you. I’d be glad to sell people drano for the express purpose of them committing suicide, if they want to buy it …not my business what they want to die for.

The Tar and Feathers Party

May 1st, 2010
9:15 am

I make more than enough, but I will not share it with you losers. Uncle stupid gets my only charity on April 15th, I will give nothing more. Not trusting the Washington Liars, I convert a small percentage of my monthly surplus to gold and silver, safely stored in Australia, beyond the greedy reach of the Federal Pecker Heads. When the dollar dies, and it will, I will be laughing my rich assets off, and making sure my foreign oil holdings DO NOT ship any oil to America on credit, we will accept payment in gold only, in advance. This is going to be soooo much fun…Suffer Losers, Suffer

The Tar and Feathers Party

May 1st, 2010
9:20 am

Madonna is a wrinkled old hag, whose body parts are pretty much worthless, she should be in a nursing home for old @@@@@@, imho. She was called McDonna in New York for a reason, some thing to do with “over 15 million served.”


May 1st, 2010
9:23 am

Great article. When Congress comes down on Fannie and Fredie, as they are Goldman. I will take the effort more seriously. Thereform bill will make it harder for Main Street and easier for big banks….


May 1st, 2010
9:36 am

Thank you for writing what I had been thinking. I think the reason celebs and high paid sports people are not complaining is because when your income is that high, you can sustain an 80% marginal tax rate and still be a millionaire. Oprah has already purchased her multitude of multi-million dollar homes, fleet of cars, etc., so a huge marginal tax rate won’t hurt her wealth status or lifestyle picture at this point. I don’t begrudge her the wealth, I am happy for her. But she certainly has no need to protect the ability of others to get as grossly wealthy as she has become.

Too much

May 1st, 2010
9:45 am

These rich people are making way too much money–more than they need. The government should raise tax rates up to 80% for real high incomes and spread this money to people who need it.


May 1st, 2010
10:02 am

Odd set of comments. Do you folks disagree that there is such a thing as “enough money” or not? What’s with the vitriol? Do you really think 10 million, 20 million, 50 million isn’t “enough”? So much fake outrage. Don’t you have any serious policy issues to discuss?

As to entertainers: if we decide that there is such a thing as “enough money” and jack up taxes for the superrich, Oprah will pay her share. Obama himself just forked over 1.8 million in taxes, plus another 1.7 million in donations (incl the nobel money). He’s walking the walk, in other words.

Now please get excited about something important.


May 1st, 2010
10:09 am

I don’t hear the weathly democrats complain about paying taxes. What I don’t understand is why so many un-weathly republicans are worried about how much the rich, in their party, pay in taxes.
Brainwashing at its best!


May 1st, 2010
10:17 am

So, for decades, the medical insurance companies have provided a good product. Actually it has been a needed and necessary product which they provided at a reasonable market rate. The rate had to keep rising because of government regulation and taxation, but the profit margin of the insurance industry was still only about 3% annually. 3% is not very much when you consider that’s about the same interest rate of a basic checking account. That’s the same profit margin that the big, nasty, evil oil companies make on a gallon of gas by the way. Our “fair minded” government, however, makes actually more profit from these same industries through taxation ( both federal and state), fines and penalties, lawsuits, lobbyists and kickbacks. Maybe someone should tell Obama that the government has made ENOUGH money off the backs of industries while simultaneously vilifying them or putting them out of business!


May 1st, 2010
10:18 am

I don’t begrudge anybody making as much money as they can, legally, and to the extent that it doesn’t do harm to others even if it does happen to be legal. The old saying of ‘whatever’s not nailed down is mine and whatever I can pry loose is not nailed down’, comes to mind…along with Galbraith’s definition of Conservatism – the search for a better excuse for selfishness (aka, unbridled greed). No, what I object to is that those that complain the most about any increase in taxes, are still paying a lot less than than they have traditionally paid and not only can they afford it, they are the only ones that can begin to close the deficit gap. Plus we’re only talking about less than a ten percentage increase in the top bracket when the Bush cuts expire at the end of this year. I mean if their ‘boy George’ hadn’t been so all-fired anxious to cut those taxes back when we were running a surplus..tax cuts that have driven the deficit spending that has gotten us in this mess…and hadn’t decided to engage in, at least one, war of choice…we’d be a hellovalot better off now. Then again, they knew that another administration would have to ‘deal’ with the reaction when they did, indeed, expire, so they’re laughing all the way to the bank – or rather, their off-shore accounts.

The other thing I begrudge is that the richest of the rich use these faux grassroots organizations to fund, and whip up, the tea-baggers into complaining about everything – hell, half the time they don’t even know what they’re mad about – other than having that black commie in the White House and ‘them fa&&ot, librals’ running the Congress – but they’re mad none-the-less.


May 1st, 2010
10:34 am

I would love to comment, but I am too busy looking up big words that uberintelligent lefties lihe Artatlarge use in their commentary. I will be back in a moment


May 1st, 2010
10:40 am

The irony of liberalism is that they have no problem with their fellow ilk having and making millions (John Breck Girl Edwards, Al Gore, Hollywood actors, sports stars, greedy sinister lawyers, and other usual suspects of the sick left). Yet, most of these ignoramuses of the modern sick left don’t understand that a lot of those who earn more than $250k are business owners – who comprise the largest single employment entity in the nation (Google it, liberals). More irony there is Queen Pelosi and King Obama are pushing small businesses to expand and grow. My God the dripping irony.

The mindless, incompetent idiots running this nation – and the idiots who elected them like “Too Much” who posted something straight out of the Communist Manifesto above – are hell bent on the destruction of this nation’s core. We are a nation under attack from Mexicans who are staging a war to get back the Southwest and from within by a bunch of neo-Marxists disguised as “progressives.”

Finally, no more incompetence of the idiocy running this nation can be seen than the administration sending SWAT teams to deal with the oil disaster in the Gulf. It took the Teleprompter Administration EIGHT days to figure out a disaster was happening, and now these buffoons are blaming BP and lining the lawyers and courts up. I guess Napoleonato was more worried about Arizona’s new law. That’s what you get when you elect a bunch of lawyers to run the nation. No word yet if the liberals and the DNC main stream media will wet themselves and blame Obama like they did Bush over Katrina.

Great job America. You get what you deserve.


May 1st, 2010
10:42 am

The information Kyle presented is factual and accurate. Each person here has read it and come to vastly different conclusions, which is natural. My conclusion is that there is no power gained by the government dabbling in the entertainment industry, while their is tremendous power gained by controlling the capital markets of the country. This administrations tactics of demonizing an industry, then gaining control of said industry for the good of the people has proved successful so far. Health insurance and now the financial industry. As Obama said in one of his books, capitalism is the enemy of good social policy. And remember, Socialism is not defined as the governments ownership of the means of production. It is defined as governments control of the means of production. Education, Health care, and private capital is a very healthy start.


May 1st, 2010
10:44 am

There is no pride and self esteem to be found in accepting entitlements, that is found only in earning it or accomplishing something. Entitlements are a fancy (and deceptive) way of keeping people oppressed, and usually too silly to realize that they are actually being had. While there are emergencies and situations where true charity is needed for the most part, our citizens do better when they value and pursue an education and have jobs. Earning that paycheck, producing something useful to others, and being able to independently support yourself and your family is where you find self-esteem, not in a government handout.

The Tar and Feathers Party

May 1st, 2010
10:45 am

Good news, Obama has been caught with his panties down, check Drudereport. He has allegedly been hitting (aka tapping, nailing, hammering, etc) a 35 year old campaign worker since at least 2004, right under Michelle’s big fat nose! John Edwards and Tiger Woods have come to the sneak-in-chief’s aid, saying “he is innocent until proven guilty.” Hotel security video tape reportedly has the sneak and his trophy on tape…..he he ha ha


May 1st, 2010
10:45 am

Isn’t something wrong with our system of allocating resources when a guy can make 6 million a year just because he can throw a baseball really fast, accurately, and with deceptive movement? Really, what is the value of that skill to society? I have the same question about Dr Phil, Oprah, and for that matter about Neal Boortz, Jon Stewart, Sean Hannity and you, Kyle? An afterthought: Hannity and Boortz probably have a negative value to society.

Bill Campbell

May 1st, 2010
10:50 am

Obama makes enough money!

The Tar and Feathers Party

May 1st, 2010
10:52 am

A more important question for the Cheater-In-Chief: When is a married man getting enough? How many hot babes does a married guy get to tap? How much nooky is enough?


May 1st, 2010
10:52 am

The President might agree, he has said that if in fact there is class warfare, that his class is winning.