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Ex-presidents have huge expense accounts

Taxpayers are picking up the tab for millions of dollars in expenses racked up by the 4 living ex-presidents -- all of whom are multimillionaires.

By Karen Datko Jun 6, 2012 7:50PM

Image: Taxes (© Thinkstock/SuperStock)Here's a great retirement perk if you can get it -- the unlimited expense accounts of former U.S. presidents, all of whom would be doing very nicely without this taxpayer-funded help.


In fiscal year 2010-11, the four living ex-presidents had a combined $3.8 million in taxpayer-paid expenses, including these particulars reported by Jonathan Karl of ABC News:

  • $579,000 in office rent for Bill Clinton (who has an estimated net worth of $38 million).
  • $80,000 in phone bills for George W. Bush (net worth of $20 million).
  • $15,000 in postage for Jimmy Carter (net worth a relatively modest $7 million).

Total expenses paid for by taxpayers that year:

  • Bush the Younger, just over $1.3 million.
  • Clinton, nearly $1.1 million.
  • Bush the Elder, $830,000 (whose net worth, by the way, is reportedly about $23 million).
  • Carter, $518,000.

It's also been widely reported that George W. Bush made $15 million from speeches that year and Clinton was paid $10 million to speak. (Post continues below.)

Aside from that, taxpayers are also footing the bill for staffing and upkeep at presidential libraries, which are built with private funds, says John Stossel in a commentary for ABC News.


My, how things have changed since Harry Truman left office; his only government payment was a $112-a-month Army pension. Because Truman struggled, a law was enacted in 1958 to give former presidents a $25,000-a-year pension plus $50,000 for office expenses. Since then, it's gotten out of hand, don't you think?


U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a bill that would pay ex-presidents an annual pension of $200,000 -- about what they get now -- plus a $200,000 allowance. However, explains the Los Angeles Times:

Under the legislation, the $200,000 annual allowance would be reduced dollar for dollar if a former president makes more than $400,000 in outside income. If a former president makes $600,000 or more in outside income, the ex-president would receive the $200,000 pension but no public allowance.
The legislation would give a former president's surviving spouse a $100,000 annual allowance, up from the current $20,000.

Future increases would be tied to the Social Security cost of living bump. Their Secret Service protection, which the Daily Mail says costs $20 million a year -- is not included in these costs and would not be affected.

"There's little reason why American taxpayers should be subsidizing these former presidents when they're doing fine on their own," Chaffetz said in a press release. "This legislation modernizes an old law and saves the taxpayer millions of dollars in the process."


Could the ex-prezes make do on limited expenses without digging into their personal accounts? After all, the Daily Mail also says:

In 2009, Clinton's 8,300-square-foot Harlem office cost taxpayers $516,000. Carter's 4,200-square-foot office in Atlanta cost $102,000. George H.W. Bush's 4,600-square-foot Houston (office) cost $175,000, CBS News reported.
One commenter at NJ.com, the online presence of The Star-Ledger, thought the former presidents deserve better than what the proposed law provides:
A more rational approach would be to provide their pension plus capped allocations for security, office rental, transportation detail, and misc expenses not to exceed a maximum amount of say $1,000,000 per year. There is something wrong with our nation if we're unwilling to provide that level of support.

On the other hand, a commenter at NPR station WBUR said:

No one is going to pay for MY "after retirement job" office when I retire. If the "next job" can't pay its own bills, time to get a different "next job."

Could this be a spending bill that people from both sides of the aisle could agree upon?


More on MSN Money:

124Comments
Jun 7, 2012 8:57PM
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I say a $200,000 pension is it. Next voted in President will get a 403B plan that they have opportunity to invest in for 4 to 8 years depending on how well they do.....don't worry the voters will let them know.

 

They do not need an extra $200K for expenses or an allowance....that is complete stupidity.

They wanted to become President, they took the steps....not our fault they started  to feel entitled....they wanted and took the job, we are just setting the salary and 403plans.

Jun 7, 2012 8:52PM
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Vote them all out of office!!!!! We have no one to blame but ourselves.
Jun 7, 2012 8:42PM
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Congressional salaries $100 million, staff salaries $125 million, pensions $23 million.  Total for congress $248million a year.  This does not include benefits, expense accounts.
The $3.1 million for ex- presidents is not excessive.
  Congress wastes far more than this proposing legislation that everyone knows will not pass.  
Jun 7, 2012 8:35PM
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Despots all of them, they got into this for the perks not the for making America a better place.  We need a 28th amendment to stop all of this extra spending post office and to give term limits and make all of the perks just go away.   Come on America let us come together and take back our Country from the Despots before we have another revolution like they did in France.  ARISTOCRACY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 7, 2012 8:10PM
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If the president, vp, senators, etc. pay taxes then they get social security and medicare just like the rest of us.  period. Thats it.  nothing else. zip. 
Jun 7, 2012 8:06PM
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This needs to stop.  When you leave office you are off the usa taxpayer teet.  It is time for americans to STAND UP AND SAY ENOUGH TO ALL ELECTED PAID SERVENTS.  move to amend org    united republic  99% declaration com  join. sign petitions.  we must stop the waste.
Jun 7, 2012 10:37AM
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Didn't Obama say," WE ALL have to tighten our belts." What he really meant was, taxpayers have to tighten their belts so that he and Michelle can continue to travel and live like a King and Queen. Same with Obama care we need to have lousy medical in the future so that they can afford to keep their Congressional first class care. We are nothing more than the paying surfs to the political elite. If he really was one of us, he would sign that bill as an executive order!  
Jun 7, 2012 10:35AM
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Didn't Obama say," WE ALL have to tighten our belts." What he really meant was, taxpayers have to tighten their belts so that he and Michelle can continue to travel and live like a King and Queen. Same with Obama care we need to have lousy medical in the future so that they can afford to keep their Congressional first class care. We are nothing more than the paying surfs to the political elite. If he really was one of us, he would sign that bill as an executive order!  
Jun 7, 2012 10:05AM
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I say give them a pension and nothing more! Why are we having to foot the bill for their life after their presidency anyway??? While I agree that they should receive some sort of retirement, I cannot see paying for anything more! Then overhaul the payments made to the rest of the government entities, because lord knows they are being compensated way too much as well!
Jun 7, 2012 10:03AM
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And yet, they complain about firemen, police and others pensions,  who risk their lives daily for all. The people in this country can't stay focused for more than a minute. In the next 10 years, the whining will be deafening as benefits continue to erode, and safety nets disappear. Bet on it. And in the meantime, the upper class will continue to further distance themselves from the people who truly deserve the benefits. People believe the hype and promise of a better deal if you vote this way or that. But the bottom line is, there's honor among thieves and change is nothing more than a word used for election purposes. It's unstoppable, because people won't open their eyes.
Jun 6, 2012 11:43PM
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Add then the retirements paid to our Congress and Congressional staff.  Also add the retirements of the entire D.C. bunch. 

If the total government retirement bill does not shock and sicken you, you are probably in on the bloated retirements.

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