If you’ve enjoyed paying Obama’s salary the past 8 years, you’ll love what’s coming next

If you’ve enjoyed paying Obama’s salary the past 8 years, you’ll love what’s coming next
Credit: Official White House photo by Pete Souza

All told, Barack Obama’s salary over the eight years of his presidency has set taxpayers back $3,200,000 (= $400,000 per year × 8). If you add in the cost of the perks he’s enjoyed as commander-in-chief — which include free room and board, a personal jet, a limo — we have shelled out considerably more for the privilege of his astute leadership.

In ten months, his stay at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will blessedly come to an end. But don’t believe for a minute that he’s hopping off the gravy train. Thanks to a 1958 law called the Former Presidents Act, he will continue to have his hand in your pocket right up until the day he dies — beyond if his wife survives him.

Under that law, living former presidents receive a pension, office staff, funds for travel, Secret Service protection, and mailing privileges.

It gets better. The Washington Free Beacon’s Morgan Chalfant explains:

In his budget requests for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, Obama proposed hikes in the appropriations for expenditures of former presidents, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service published Wednesday.

The report … specifies that Obama’s 2017 budget proposes a nearly 18 percent hike in appropriations for expenditures of former presidents. He successfully requested an increase in such appropriations for fiscal year 2016. [Emphasis added]

From the report itself:

The President’s FY2017 budget request seeks $3,865,000 in appropriations for expenditures for former Presidents, an increase of $588,000 (17.9%) from the FY2016 appropriation level. The increase in requested appropriations for FY2017 anticipates President Barack Obama’s transition from incumbent to former President.

For FY2016, President Obama requested and received appropriations of $3,277,000 for expenditures for former Presidents–an increase of $25,000 from FY2015 appropriated levels.

Chalfont notes that the law has come under attack because it lines the pockets of presidents who are anything but struggling. “Many of them, alternatively,” she writes, “have gone on to profit from writing books about their time in the White House or delivering paid speaking engagements.”

Former President Bill Clinton, for example, earned $132 million for delivering paid speeches between February 2001 and March 2015, according to an analysis from CNN. Clinton received $924,000 in taxpayer dollars last year by way of the Former Presidents Act.

In 2014, Obama himself earned $94,889 in royalties from his two autobiographies, bringing his gross earnings for that year up just shy of a million dollars. He must have tallied up some hefty expenses, because his total federal income bill was $93,362, assessed at an effective income tax rate of 19.6%. The marginal rate married joint filers for earning $457,601 or more was 39.6%.

Like being white (in his case half white), being president has its privileges.

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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