First and foremost, the role of the First Lady (or First Gentleman) is a j-o-b with a set of duties and a staff to manage. It’s not like you sleep until 10AM and walk around the White House eating bon-bons. The First Lady has no other realistic opportunity to work outside the home, either. She can’t earn an income, pay off old debts, or build a retirement nest egg.
Now you may argue that paying the First Lady is a form of nepotism — we elect the President and we shouldn’t pay someone just because she is married to the most important man in the world. Some argue that most families who occupy the White House are wealthy and don’t need the extra income. In fact, many first ladies retire and write books.
I couldn’t disagree more.
I believe that the First Lady is a member of the President’s staff and operates as an advocate of our government. We pay everyone from the Secretary of state to the secretary who orders lunch for visitors to the Capitol. The First Lady is just as important to our country as many of the other roles in our federal government.
I’m also concerned about the signals we send to Americans when we offer an unpaid role as a ‘first hostess’ to our citizens. An unpaid role may dissuade other professional women from wholeheartedly supporting the candidacies of their husbands.
This is simple, yo. We pay the White House tour guides, the landscapers, and the valet parking attendants. We should pay the First Lady of the United States.