Obama’s request for 18% pay boost after leaving office: Acceptable?

When it comes to the spending of the nation's funds, America's taxpaying public might reasonably ask, did the President exercise discretion when spending his employer's money?

Obama Legacy: The American Ozymandias. Image by DonkeyHotey (Via Flickr, CC 2.0)

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2016 – All things considered, should an employee simply be able to request a higher-than-average retirement salary for the rest of his or her life? More specifically, if that employee happened to be President Barack Obama, an employee of “We The People,” what would our response to such a request be? It’s a relevant question, because the situation is no longer hypothetical.

As Newsmax reports,

“President Barack Obama has requested a raise in the amount of money allotted to former presidents of 18 percent, according to a report by Congressional Research Service.

“‘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 report says.

“Obama leaves office in January 2017, and the increase in requested funds for FY2017 ‘anticipates President Barack Obama’s transition from incumbent to former President,’ the report says.

“For FY2016, Obama requested and received appropriations of $3,277,000 for expenditures for former Presidents, which is an increase of $25,000 from FY2015.”

If such a request had been made in the private sector, the career activities of the employee or corporate officer making such a request would be subject to the strictest scrutiny, involving a careful and thorough assessment of an individual’s expenditures, activities and worth during his time with the company. A president should be no different, particularly when considering the amount of taxpayer money involved.
For starters, when it comes to the spending of the nation’s funds, America’s taxpaying public might reasonably ask, did the President exercise discretion when spending his employer’s money? Granted business trips and other expenditures can be incurred, particularly when representing the United States both here and abroad. However, did the President and his staff planning and incur such expenses exercise appropriate discretion? Did they support national aims or result in greater productivity?
Productivity is a key concept in that it reflects what an employer — in this case, “We the People” — could reasonably expect to receive in in value for the money spent. Do this President’s expenditures on behalf of the government pass the “acid test” for discretion, and productivity? Has the history of his management of government funds proven him to be worthy of a substantial increase in retirement funds as he has requested?

Further, given the President’s tremendous increase in the national debt over the last 7 years, “We The People” must also consider how their tax money was spent. Was it spent only for the fulfillment of his duties? Short answer: “No.”

Aside from tending to the normal meetings and appearances that are expected of him, President Obama has deemed it quite acceptable to use Air Force One for personal getaways and family vacations as well. He has also allowed his mother-in-law, niece and friends to partake in this luxurious mode of travel at the taxpayers’ expense. According to the Washington Times, the cost of using Air Force One totals $206,337. per flight hour. The cost of their African vacation and Honolulu Christmas vacation taken together totalled $15,885,585.30, and that’s just for flight time.

In 2013, the President and Mrs. Obama attended the G-8 conference in Belfast, Ireland. While there, Mrs. Obama took a side trip to Dublin, where she and her entourage secured 30 rooms at Dublin’s luxurious 5-Star Shelbourne Hotel, where Mrs. Obama’s room alone ran the equivalent of $3,500 per night. Total cost for the Ireland trip: $7,921,638.66.

In 2014, Michelle Obama visited China, along with her two daughters, her mother and numerous support personnel. Just the flight for this trip totaled $362,523.53. That is approximately 225 times what the average American family spends for a one-week vacation.

The cost of Mrs. Obama’s stay in the Presidential Suite of the 5-star Westin Chaoyang Hotel was $8,350. per night. With more square footage than the average U.S. home, the Presidential Suite occupies 3,445 square feet and includes a kitchen, bar, sauna, jacuzzi, dining table for six, a 50-inch interactive flat-screen television, Bose audio system, a private gym and 24-hour butler service. The First Lady’s trip was billed by the White House as an effort by Mrs. Obama to “promote her education agenda,” even though she and her family spent most of their time in popular tourist and sightseeing areas.

According to the Air Force documents, the flight tab alone for Michelle Obama, her daughters and her mother during their June 15-21 tour of London, Milan, Venice, and Vicenza came to $240,495.67. Though the White House billed the trip as part of Michelle Obama’s campaign to promote her “Let Girls Learn” initiative and her “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign, the Obama entourage also set aside substantial time for touring each area.

Worse, the Secret Service has of yet to release the cost incurred for for personnel, accommodations, meals, rental cars, and related expenses for this trip. Not surprisingly, the cost of the Presidential entourage’s most recent trips to Cuba and Argentina have yet to be released as well, nor have costs been disclosed for the weekend skiing trip to Aspen or the numerous Presidential golf outings.

Costs are not the only issue with this president. His loyalty to the United States and to the American taxpayer have long been in serious doubt. In a March 26, 2016 article by S. Noble for the online Independent Sentinel, the author notes, “Between [the President’s] stays in Havana and Buenos Aires, Grabien Crowdsource News counted at least 15 times Obama talked down his employer, The United States of America.”

Some examples:

  • President Obama claimed America must have the “courage to acknowledge” its role in Argentina’s human-rights abuses.
  • The Constitution’s separation of powers makes it hard for America to adapt to changing times
  • America must do more to promote equality
  • America needs to reduce discrimination
  • America suffers from “political polarization”
  • America was built by slaves
  • America and has too much money involved in politics
  • America has a problem with racially-biased criminal justice system, a racially-biased society, and a legacy of slavery and segregation
  • Many American states would have forbidden his biracial parents to marry
  • Many American schools in the south were segregated when he was young
  • American democracy is imperfect
  • America’s political process is not pretty, as evidenced by the current 2016 race
  • He shared with Cuba’s Castro brothers his thoughts on where America is “falling short”
  • He “doesn’t disagree” with Castro’s view that America should provide “free” health care, education, and social security to all

Has this employee displayed, in his actions and words, the good name and conduct of his employer? It would appear that’s not the case. Has this employee proven himself to be a valued representative for the majority of America’s taxpayers? Not according to Dictionary.com, which describes “valued” as “to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.” And, “to regard or esteem highly.”

Shining light in the darkness will inevitably reveal what is often hidden. Shedding light on President Obama’s treatment of his citizen employers as well as the country we all share quickly reveals a number of inconvenient truths and poses an uncomfortable number of serious questions.

Was discretion used in this President’s spending of taxpayer money? Absolutely not.

Was discernment properly applied in the planning of trips or in the issuance of Presidential statements made on behalf of the country whose money was improperly spent? Absolutely not.

Was this American President and taxpayer employee a shining example of what America is truly all about? Absolutely not.

Should this President be granted an 18% increase—in advance—in the amount he receives after leaving office and for the rest of his life?

Absolutely not.

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