Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's an ex-President worth?

Did this bother you, or is it just me? A Jim Rutenberg article in yesterday's New York Times presented the story of former Presidents Clinton and Bush addressing an audience in Toronto about their presidential experiences. I'm sure that was a fascinating and worthwhile session.

Here's the part that was troubling to me: "Each earned more than an estimated $150,000 for the appearance."

As far as I can tell, an ex-President gets the following from taxpayers: A $191,300 salary, full coverage for himself and his spouse in the federal health care system, staff for his office, office rental expenses, coverage of all telephone and postage expenses, and certain travel expenses.

I don't begrudge any of that. After all, this is one of the hardest jobs in the world, and ex-Presidents continue to have public obligations even after their term of office ends. And I am pleased if they can make lots of money, too.

But shouldn't we require some kind of offset if an ex-President is able to bring in money by selling stories about his time in public service? For example, Mr. Clinton's speaking fees and book royalties have reportedly amounted to over $50 million since leaving office. What if the first dollars that came in were used to reimburse the taxpayers' contribution to the president's ability to go on the speaking circuit?

The idea of a salary offset is common in business. If a person has a severance agreement, the annual payment is often subject to this kind of offset if he or she receives income from another source during the severance period. Why shouldn't we apply that in this case?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you retire from one job, you are allowed to get another. There are some limits concerned with "double dipping" from the government but that clearly doesn't apply here.

The only retirement payments I know of that are reduced because of earnings are social security - which neither is entitled to yet.

Anonymous said...

Oh,that's a slippery slope. I like discussions about health care better. (:

nonlocal

Anonymous said...

One criticism of 'health care' charities in general: That industry has become one of the most profitable of all time. It already accounts for about 15% of our GDP. The industry as a whole can easily afford to cover its own research and development. Still, it lobbies for billions in government funding, tax breaks, and 'charitable' contributions. It affiliates with hundreds of public figures who 'raise funds' from ordinary people specifically for that industry in the name of 'humanity'. In other words, we are paying for a portion of their research and development. In return, they sell any 'breakthrough' made right back to us for MAXIMUM PROFIT. Their charges remain absolutely OBSCENE. They have been for years. So incredibly high, that thousands of families have already gone bankrupt as a direct result of health care expenses. Thousands of retirees have already had to 'reverse mortgage' their homes to pay for it. The average American is now losing sleep over health care expenses. Medicare and Medicaid are both projected to go bankrupt. Of course, the industry tries to cover for this injustice with one liners like "Today's drugs pay for tomorrow's miracles.". They also 'give back' a little just like every other industry and seek maximum publicity for it. Its a sham in my book. We don't need anymore 'good will' for or on the part of that industry. We need affordable health care in general. THAT MEANS LOWER PROFIT MARGINS. Along with fewer unnecessary tests, procedures, and pharmaceuticals. Of course, some of the work done is legitimate. But that holds true even for the government. Here is the problem. ITS GONE TOO FAR. Something must be done about this out of control 'drug and doctor' mentality. Otherwise, there will never, ever, EVER be affordable health care for the majority.

Anonymous said...

Regarding anon 5:05, see what I mean about the slippery slope.

nonlocal

Paul Levy said...

:)

Benj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul Levy said...

Not the President's salary, the ex-President's . . .

Anonymous said...

Let's see, the CEO of arguably the most powerful country on Earth, what's the pay, $400,000 a year. Let's say $200,000 thereafter. What does the CEO of BIDMC make? The presidents deserve whatever they can get their hands on as long as someone other than the taxpayers are willing to pay.