CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tuesday, we’re going to elect a new president, and in January we’ll officially put President Obama on the taxpayer funded Presidential pension program. And, from the looks of it, that’s a pretty sweet deal.
Last year, President George W. Bush earned $796,000 just through his pension benefits.
Where do presidents spend that money? And why are we as taxpayers subsidizing millionaire ex-Presidents?
In 1958 Former President Harry Truman was living only on his WW1 army pension and told Congress he couldn't afford postage stamps for "official business." Congress immediately responded with the Presidential Pension act of 1958, giving Truman a retirement salary of $25,000, some benefits and a staff.
But boy, has that benefit ballooned! In 2017, it’s likely that taxpayers will support our former presidents to the tune of more than $3.8 million. Their salary every year from their pension is $205,700. Aside from that, each ex-President gets a staff that costs you $96,000 a year per president. And, we pay the rent for their office space.
President Clinton's rent last year in NY was $429,000. In Texas, where things are supposed to be cheaper than New York, Bush 43 spends even more; his office space cost us $434,000 last year.
The first President Bush spent $23,000 last year on "equipment”, whatever that is, and President Jimmy Carter spent $96,000 on "other services".
After finding all of this information, I dug a little deeper and made a public information request to the General Services Administration. I wanted to see the expense reports, the bills and the receipts turned in by our former chief executives.
Let's just say what I got back redefines the phrase "what you can do for your country."
I learned that we taxpayers had been subsidizing President Bush's subscription to the Wall Street Journal, $242.00, and he has spent money on office furniture at Brookstone, his total for supplies in just January of 2006 alone was $7,538.00.
Former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush seem to spend the most across the board. Bill Clinton’s phone records from 2006 cost taxpayers $104,000. We also have paid for his satellite TV in his office, complete with eight separate receivers and all the movie channels that come with the "entertainment package". Your cost for his movies and entertainment? $1800 a year.
President George W. Bush spent $80,000 in 2015 on “communications”, which is to say we paid for his cable, phone and UPS/FedEx deliveries.
Congress regulates and approves this money for our former Presidents, all of whom have a net worth in the tens of millions.
In retirement, President Bill Clinton's speaking fees in the first 10 years earned him more than $40 million and his book deals put another $12 million in his pocket. Clinton’s net worth now valued at $200 million.
It begs the question, why are taxpayers subsidizing ex-Presidents who are multi- millionaires?
If you are wondering why President Jimmy Carter hasn't been mentioned much, it's because he spends far less even though he’s been receiving the benefit the longest. In 2008 he spent $518,000 total, that’s less than half of President Clinton's 1.1 million, President Bush 41 fell somewhere in between during that year.
With the budget getting bigger and bailouts all over in the billions, retirement has never looked scarier for many average Americans. Unless of course, you can go "presidential".
Footnote: Last year, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush together took 62.2% of all benefits paid out to the four living Presidents and the widows of the former Presidents.
Yes, the first ladies and surviving first ladies also get benefits, albeit small ones, only $20,000 a year.