The first couple’s lifestyle is stirring a firey controversy in this time of economic recession and budgetary restrictions. The cost of their Christmas holidays in Hawaii attracted media attention and the privileges accorded to Michelle Obama have aroused its indignation.

The First Lady hasn’t stopped reiterating her intention to embrace her husband’s mandate with humility and to serve her country voluntarily at his side. Nevertheless, she has gone on to recruit an unprecedented army of staffers to help her handle her image and to reply to her mail.

The 24 members of her secretariat are paid for entirely by the White House at the taxpayers’ expense. Of these, only 16 salaries have been disclosed, totalling 1.6 million dollars a year. No information has been released so far regarding the running costs incurred.