Wallet feeling light? The cost of supporting a president - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wallet feeling light? The cost of supporting a president

Posted: Updated: Jan 22, 2009 12:36 PM PST
Obama is a new president, but we'll be supporting him in the future Obama is a new president, but we'll be supporting him in the future
SPOKANE, Wash. - In 1958 Former President Harry Truman was living solely on his WWI army pension and told Congress he couldn't even afford postage stamps for "official business." Congress immediately responded with the Presidential Pension act of 1958, giving Truman a retirement salary of $25,000, benefits and a staff.

Today taxpayers are supporting our former presidents to the tune of more than $2.9 million. Their yearly salary pension is $191,000. Aside from that, each gets a staff; that staff costs you, the taxpayer, $96,000 per president. Among the amenities we pay for is rent for their office space - President Clinton's rent in Harlem is $516,000 a year, while the first President Bush spends $69,000 a year on "equipment" and

Want all the details?

For all the details on how much money taxpayers spend to support former presidents, check out the CRS Report to Congress - Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits. For that report, click here.
President Jimmy Carter spends $83,000 a year on "other services". The spending doesn't stop there.

We are paying for President Bush's subscription to the Wall Street Journal which costs $242 a year and he spends money on office furniture at Brookstone. His total for supplies in just January of 2006 alone was $7,538.

Former President Bill Clinton seems to spend the most across the board. His phone bill from the records KHQ received from 2006 cost taxpayers $104,000. We also pay for the satellite TV in his office, complete with eight separate receivers and all the movie channels that come with the "entertainment package". Your cost? $1,800 per year.

Congress regulates and approves this money for our former presidents, all of which have a net worth in millions and tens of millions. In retirement, President Bill Clinton's speaking fees earned him more than $40 million in addition to the $12 million his book deals have put in his pocket since he left office.

It all begs the question, why are taxpayers subsidizing ex-presidents who are millionaires?

Washington Senator Patty Murray had this answer, "We expect a lot from our presidents when they retire. They still are a very important part of our Democracy, an important part of our discussion; we look to them for a lot of input still on issues that face this Country."

If you are wondering why President Jimmy Carter hasn't been mentioned much, it's because he spends far less. In 2008 he spent $518,000, less than half of President Clinton's $1.1 million, the first Bush 41 fell somewhere in between.

With the budget getting bigger and bailouts in the billions, retirement has never looked scarier for many Americans, unless you can go  "presidential".

Story by:
Bill McGinty

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