The Former Presidents Act was enacted in 1958 to “maintain the dignity of the Office of President”. In 1958, $25,000 was the pay for ex-presidents, but “currently it pays former Presidents $203,700 for the 2015 calendar year and has increased by $2,000 for 2016.” This Act also “provides living former presidents with a pension, office staff and support, funds for travel, Secret Service protection, and mailing privileges. It also provides benefits for presidential spouses”.
The report, which discusses the pensions and other federal benefits offered to former commanders-in-chief by way of the Former Presidents Act, 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.
“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,” the report reads.
“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.”
There are many who argue that the Act is being abused as Presidents are not struggling after leaving office, thus the need to “maintain the dignity of the Office of the President” is not what it used to be. So many former Presidents have written books, speak for substantial amounts of money and other private enterprises that the pension paid is really a tax subsidy for the wealthy.
An example of a President who does not need the pension would be Bill Clinton.
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.
Representative Jason Chaffetz, (R,Utah) introduced a bill in the House that would cap annual pensions for former Presidents at $200,000.
“It’s pretty simple. You want a retirement and pension, it’s there. But if you’re going to go out and make enormous sums of money, then you don’t need taxpayer subsidies,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who introduced the bill in the House, told ABC News in an interview.
Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would cap annual pensions for former presidents at $200,000. Additionally, the bills would cut each pension by a dollar for every dollar the former president earns over $400,000 in the private sector in a given year. The measure was approved by the House in January with bipartisan support.
Obama certainly would not sign such a bill as it cuts back on his subsidized green fees, but at least there is a show of restraint in the House bill that would effect both sides of the aisle if it was passed.
Source: Free Beacon