Bill Would Slash Taxpayer Subsidies for Rich Former Presidents

(Emily Larsen, Liberty Headlines) A new bill aims to reduce the million-dollar benefits former presidents receive from taxpayers, recognizing modern economic realities which afford former presidents plenty of opportunities to earn money.

Bush Clinton photo

Photo by Beverly & Pack (CC)

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017 would slightly reduce pensions for former presidents to $200,000, but then reduce that pension dollar-for-dollar if the former president makes over $400,000 per year. It would also limit office expenses, including staff, to $500,000 per year, and lower the allowance to $350,000 in six years and $250,000 in 10 years.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) introduced the bill, H.R. 3739, in the House. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

“The lifestyle of the modern post-presidency has dramatically changed in recent years, affording former presidents many lucrative opportunities, including high-dollar speaking engagements, book deals, and board memberships, just to name a few,” said Hice in a press release. “With Americans looking down the barrel of a $20 trillion debt, we must find ways to reduce wasteful spending, and our former presidents will lead by example in cutting costs under this bill.”

Since 1958, former presidents have received a pension and funding for staff salaries, office space, travel expenses, communications, and other expenses. In Fiscal Year 2017, the living former presidents each received a pension of $205,700, plus other benefits totaling a combined $2.84 million. For Fiscal Year 2018, former presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton each requested over a million dollars in total benefits, and George H.W. Bush requested just shy of a million at $942,000.

“What we see is a situation where our former presidents have book deals, they have speaking engagements, and they are paid quite liberally in those areas, and the American taxpayer shouldn’t be subsidizing for those personal office spaces, and it’s time we do something about that,” said Ernst on “Fox and Friends.”

Before the Former Presidents Act, some previous officeholders were financially strapped. Harry Truman moved back to his old house in Independence, Missouri, and had no federal financial support other than his Army pension of $112.56 a month. He refused to engage in any paying activity that would commercialize the presidency, including making endorsements, consulting, or accepting chairmanships. Congress implemented presidential pensions due in part to Truman’s plight.

Speaking engagements, consulting, and book deals are commonplace for former presidents today. Although Hillary Clinton famously claimed that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” and in debt after leaving the White House, they became multimillionaires within months after Bill started giving paid speeches. Barack Obama and George W. Bush each have an estimated net worth is $40 million, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com. Obama charged $400,000 for a speech to a Wall Street firm, and his family bought a $8.1 million house in Washington, DC, in May.

A version of the Presidential Allowance Modernization passed both the House and the Senate last year with bipartisan support, but was vetoed by President Obama. The former version would have immediately terminated salaries and benefits of those working in the offices of former presidents, and other “onerous and unreasonable burdens.”

Although the bill includes reductions for staff, it would not reduce funding for security detail for the former presidents or their family members.

The House version of the bill will be heard by the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee today.

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  • Bob D

    THANK YOU Jody Hice! I had no idea this was so lucrative and of course you will never hear about in the MSM. I say great start, but the numbers should be reduced even further based on the wealth and opportinities which abound for these individuals.

    • Linda Conino

      Bob: I feel the same way. Not steep enough cut.

    • DannaStevens

      AMEN!!! I had just written two posts on this very thing this AM!!! Guess they got my message immediately! LOL Harry Truman did not get anywhere near this amt. HOW did the amt. get so large??? And then, when they tried to reduce it, OBUMMER VETOED IT!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE THAT??? THIS should also go for Congress and RonDesantis has been trying to get one passed ever since he was elected. He introduced one in the House and Ted Cruz introduced one in the Senate, setting term limits and eliminating retirement pay, and NO benefits for Congress that the general population didn’t have, AND he pays for his own insurance. If he ever runs for President, he will DEFINITELY have my vote!!!

      • chris VN

        Obumass gave himself a pension increase before he left office.

  • greyghost5632

    obummer should have to pay back what he has cost the American taxpayer through his failed policies!!!

    • marshmil1789

      He was never legally a President so he owes We the People every cent he received. Considering the amount he commands now for blabbermouth speeches he’s doing fine. Also cut out his Secret Service protection detail.

      • Louie Rey

        He was such a disaster that even the Kenyans are now saying he was born in America.

        • marshmil1789

          That’s interesting. Considering Obama’s lack of accomplishments demonstrated by his failure to produce any credentials in 2008 that would have presented evidence of qualifications for the US Presidency and backed by the fact that he was actually an “unknown” brought up many “red flags” waving in 2008 that made me question how he even got to be a candidate. Barack Hussein Obama IS an imposter foreign student born in Africa with a foreign citizenship and therefore never qualified to be a candidate for the US Presidency. I call upon the US Congress to address this issue and come up with legislation to correct the error as much as feasible for now and to clarify the Constitutional requirements regarding who will be allowed to be a candidate for the US Presidency in the future. America was hoodwinked in November 2008 by a non-qualified foreign student presidential candidate and his supporters in violation of provisions of the US Constitution.

          • Louie Rey

            You say it’s interesting. It would also be funny if it wasn’t so sad. And outrageous!

          • marshmil1789

            I agree fully! The mere fact that the name Barack Obama was allowed on ballots is prima facie evidence we have a faction in this nation who have no interest in or respect for the rule of law. Those people are found in the “progressive” political arena. They want a dictator in the manner of Benito Mussolini of Italy during the WWII era, They are fascists and lately have adopted the political name Antifa which is hypocritical because they are doing exactly what they claim they are against. Like coward Middle Eastern Muslims they hide their faces. Members of the KKK are known to have done that in the early 20th. Century. Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty.

          • Louie Rey

            Amen my friend, amen.

    • Debby

      And how about reimursing for all those extravagant vacations??????

      • DeadToad

        Don’t forget the 7.5 billion dollars he gave to his friends the Iranians in cash. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some of that money went back to him. Also known as a kickback.

        • Dan

          Agree he was a snake in the woods if ever anyone was. What a worthless piece of crap.

    • Frank Budz

      He should just pay back what he stole.

  • smoke5713

    It’s about time!

  • ADBDAB

    Dumbo didn’t have a $1 million dollars when he entered the White House and now has $40 million. Every tax payer should demand this jerk reimburse his dollars on foolishness. He is a Muslim and cares about the Muslims so let him go live in Africa. We would be glad to totally be rid of him and his family.

    • marshmil1789

      AMEN! Thanks ADBDAB.

    • Concerned

      Send him to Somalia on a refugee package.

    • Louie Rey

      President Truman once said, and I quote, “If you enter politics poor and leave rich you’re stealing.” Now starting with $1 million doesn’t mean that you’re poor but when you leave with an extra $39 million there’s definitely a LOT of theft there.

  • Richard

    About Time. But needs to go further.

  • Born Again Southern Pride

    After alll the millions they have they need more from us? IT’S A TEMP JOB! No retirement… no posh medical care, no family vacations, no library, no secret service body guards. Just a hearty handshake and be on your way. Stop sucking off the government teat. That goes for all congress critters too…

    Just to be clear for all you 0blahblah sycophants… my comment goes toward ALL past presidents and congress members, demonrats or republitards.

  • pbolton70

    Well they should means test the pension and expense allotment for ex presidents. They probably could scale down security as well for family. But I think means testing would be fair because we would not want a Truman or Grant situation happening.

    • Lacy Jay

      Oh?

  • old_salty_dawg99

    They should cut what those exes get Americans should not be paying for their phone calls, an office, protection for them and their families( all classiest info should receive new passwords or codes the instant the new president is sworn in). The money they are paid in more than enough with what they make from book and speech deals. The Obammys are getting $60 million for a book after all cute destruction he did to America when in FACT he should get a rope for his TREASON and creating of a TERRORIST Group namely ISIS. While some are good men their retirement pay is more than good enough for any reasonable person and family to live on with all the money they get offered after out of office. Given that they will get all that money even if they were to resign after a day in office is INSANE. It is bad enough that Congress gets their perks many after they made millions in leftover campaign funds which they keep after all their election bills are paid. Their perks should also be cut off. I’m talking about both in and out of office in their cases. Taxpayers should not pay for Congress members to take dozens on so called fact finding missions. What should be is they get no private jet unless it is one they own and they pay all costs for it. No more than one aide in these so called fact finding missions and NO suites to stay in just a regular room unless they pay the extra for a suite. They pay all meals and other items while in this mission. America has paid far to much to these politicians and it needs stopped NOW. If these so calkex public servants cannot live as the public does they need gotten rid of and that means NOW.

  • marshmil1789

    Good for these fiscal conservatives! We need to cut back on ALL federal expenses–“welfare” to former officeholders as well as to welfare recipients.

  • Linda Conino

    Stop all this money. Learn to live within your means, like most Americans do. Stop security for all parties, if you make that kind of money doing speeches, writing books, ext., than pay for your own security.. Also, health care we need to stop paying for Congress and Senate, let them pay for their own share of health insurance.

    • Katie Rae

      They should all be on Obama Care !!

  • Samuel A. Andrus

    What kind of staff and why do they need a staff paid for with public funds. Once they leave office they return to private civilian life only staying as political as they choose to be. So any office or work would then be deemed privately owned even if open to public. They are all given a huge very expensive library in their name where they can keep their personal files sealed and hidden from the public. As for as staff goes why do they need such a large amount of people with outrageous salaries and expect public funds to pay for it. I agree their benefits should be cut. But much more than we are seeing in this bill. 200,000. As with all other public pensions this should be reduced equally after they earn an certain amount dollar for dollar. For salary plus their healthcare(they should be on the same healthcare as citizens Obama care) a reasonable security, travel only when in benefit of the public and maximum 500,000 a year for their office, staff for first 5 years than drop by half every 5 years after that.

    • erleebird

      Agree, especially the health care debacle. You see how amazingly fast a good plan would be constructed if Congress had to use it, also!

    • Lacy Jay

      Noted: McCain stated he got “the best” to treat his cancer.

      • erleebird

        I seem to recall that Obama told them they didn’t have to have the “common” citizen’s healthcare plan. No wonder they are not too quick to change things for the better; they’re not affected.

      • Fed up!

        Now there’s a hypothetical pice of 💩 McCain.

    • Fed up!

      How about Zero everything. You where in office to help the American Citizens, not screw them over. That goes for all politicians PERIOD!

    • mr haney

      I think they should ALL HAVE EVERYTHING THEY GIVE US AND NOT A DIME MORE.

  • Steve G.

    How much of the 20 trillion dollar debt belongs to just these five presidents? Disturbing to see how much these former presidents get after mortgaging our children’s future.

  • Ronald Dawson

    Stop all payments If you quit or get fired do you still get paid I think not

  • Kmat

    Sent it through again, Trump will not Vote it!!

  • Big John

    Now that is what I call intelligent legislation. It will most likely die before a vote is cast.
    It is insane to throw fistfuls of money at these former heads of state that become rich just because they won a popularity contest.
    Give me one reason why we should continue to give tax dollars to these people?
    And don’t try to tell me they are ambassadors or some such nonsense.
    I don’t think the Bill goes far enough. Stop ALL funding if they are already rich!
    We have to stop the madness at some point.

  • Marion Quinton

    Cut all presidents benefits and I agree with greyghost5632 Obama needs have his assets frozen. Then sold and returned to the Feds budget.

  • ONLYJB1

    SLIGHTLY? Even slightly this will go no further. Kinda like TERM LIMITS!

  • Roy Veteto

    if they are a representative of the american people then you should live as the average american citizen does

  • what recovery

    They are all multimillionaires, they should only get 200,000.00. No office expenses, no staff, secret service for 10 years and thats it. They make so much money on speeches and appearances just check out the Clinton bank roll.

  • Sandra

    We shouldn’t be funding their libraries either. They are all wealthy. No Harry Truman’s left.

  • Harry Pearson

    Thank you, Jodi Hice and Joni Hirst, for finally introducing a bill that brings a bit of economic and financial sense to our former Presidents. They really don’t need more than a $200,000 per year retirement, especially with all the government perks they are still receiving. In a day when the country is being trampled under a debt load that was only dreamt of a few decades ago, we need to reduce the debt in any way we can. This is a good start.

  • Debby

    Don’t all the X presidents somehow end up with REALLY FULL POCKETS????

  • Patricia Eddy

    Please get this passed. Taxpayers should not be subsidizing persons making maybe a 100,000 times more than themselves. Let them use the health system that we have to use. They are no better than us, they put their pants on l leg at a time.

  • katfan

    Yes, please pass this bill. “We the People” should not be paying millions of dollars a year to former Presidents who have the opportunity to make millions on their own. Our trillions of dollars of debt should not be increased to support multi-millionaires. What happened to the idea that citizens would go to Washington to serve their nation, then return to their civilian jobs. The same should be in place for members of Congress. If members of Congress were not protected for the rest of their lives we might have representatives who were more concerned with actually representing the people who sent them to Washington, than representatives who are most concerned with keeping their positions. Members of Congress spend more time doing whatever will get them re-elected, than doing the job they were sent to Washington to do. Term Limits for Congress would also go a long way to reducing our National deficit.

  • skier69

    For sure! It is ridiculous for me to pay for their extravagant lifestyles. They are not Presidents anymore. It’s greedy when they have the money to bankroll themselves

  • Frank Budz

    Gee that would mean Bill and Hillary would have to move back into their trailer in Boondack Ark.

  • Nana Monster

    I’d like to know WHY Obama’s mother-in-law is collecting a pension on the taxpayers dime.

    • Katie Rae

      Because Obama said so

  • Rolpho Signetti

    Since most of these people love the area so much… ship thier red, white, blue, and black butts to Mexico! Pay them in pesos. $200,000 = 200,000 pesos! Let them help these poor needy people from within Mexico.

    Except maybe Bill, and O’jerko! They have a room reserved special for them in Gitmo, and Hades!

    And… I still wanna know where that creepy, craaazzzy Wasserman chick went of to!

  • Gregg Parker

    It’s amazingly sickening how public servants who come in to the office with some money walk out multi-millionaires while being engaged in the people’s business. None of it adds up except when you consider the payoffs and paybacks! They should spend the rest of their lives broke and on welfare and unemployment. Try living in the country the way you left it for the rest of us after you departed! Global A-holes…

  • Michael Lloyd

    Excellent idea that is long overdue. It just doesn’t go far enough on the reductions.

  • Elaine Barbosa

    They should stop all money they get. They have all made millions since they left the White House on their speaking engagements so cut off all our tax payer money. Obama an his family spent more time on Air Force one traveling all over with our money. They owe us money.

  • Carolyn Noel

    I’d be willing to bet the only ex-presidents NOT willing to go along with that idea would be Clinton and BO!

  • chris VN

    This should apply to ALL politicians, along with term limits!!!

  • Louie Rey

    All of these guys should follow the lead of President Truman. Once his term was over he went back to his private life and shunned the spotlight. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, he even turned down Secret Service protection for the duration of his life after leaving office. It’s like what the Founding Fathers intended, you get elected, you serve and then after your term expires you go back to the private sector and leave things to your successors.

  • 2399molly

    Obama owes millions to us the taxpayer with his and his so called wife’s spending spree. I hope they garnish his wages until paid back.

  • Fed up!

    BS they all need there pension terminated period. Retro active now.
    They did not hold office to get fat an happy in retirement. That’s tax payers hard earned money.

  • David

    It’s high time the presidents live like the rest of us. When you retire, you live according to the investments you made while working and supplement as necessary. Truman was perhaps the last true American president. I’m sorry for his plight, but then again, he CHOSE that lifestyle. He could have worked on the side to supplement his income.

    Security I understand, but staff? Heck, I want a “staff” for my retirement too! Let them pay for their own staff, if needed, from their own earnings! Oh, and I already know I’m a better speaker than most former presidents and I’ll do it a LOT cheaper!

    Folks, this may be the very administration to get this one passed. Contact your reps and senators and urge them to vote this in. I think Trump is the very president who wouldn’t veto this!

  • We wouldn’t want to reduce former presidents income by slashing taxpayer subsidies. If there were a decent man among them he wouldn’t be taking anything at all. Donald Trump won’t even take a salary as President. Makes the rest off the past presidential scumbags look pitiful.

  • Katie Rae

    They should also have to have OBAMA CARE instead of Cadillac plans that we pay for.