WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2015 – We know Donald Trump is rich. He tells us often. It’s one of the charming aspects of the presidential nominee — not that he has money, but that he is not embarrassed by it.
We have all been waiting, and Donald Trump (R) has now said he won’t take the $400K per year salary that the president receives, leaving that money in the people’s coffers. Not a big deal, you say? President Obama (D), while serving as president, has become a multi-millionaire, thanks mostly to the sales of his books “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams of My Father.”
Celebrity Net Worth says Obama is worth an estimated $12.2 million — a 438 percent increase from when he first ran for office. He has also said that Michelle Obama deserves a paycheck equal to his.
First Ladies are not elected — they come with the president — so they are not paid.
Other public servants who did not benefit from their time in office include George Washington, who spent much of his personal fortune to support the war effort and who refused a presidential salary (though he did file hefty expense reports); John F. Kennedy (D, No. 35), who famously donated his salary to charity; and Herbert Hoover, the first to be a salary-philanthropic president.
Vice President Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (R-Ford) donated all of his salary to charity, one-half to educational and social welfare programs to aid underprivileged urban children and one half to the arts in public schools.
George Washington set the precedent for a presidential/vice presidential salary, as he felt individuals would not serve if they had to rely on personal fortunes during their time in office. In 1789 that salary was $25,000 (a princely sum at that time); it rose to $50K in 1873, $75K in 1909, $100K in 1949 and $200K in 1969, when Richard Nixon entered the White House. When George W. Bush, was elected the presidential salary was $200K per year; however, Congress doubled the presidential salary and now Obama’s salary is $400K. The president also receives a $50,000 non-taxable expense account.
Presidents also receive free transportation in the presidential limousine, Marine One and Air Force One along with the no-rent use of the White House. The presidential family is required to pay for personal expenses, including food; however, they receive that healthy expense account for those things. The American people pay for the White House chef.
The president and vice president also receive pensions for life in the area of $200,000 per year, health care, paid official travel and an office, which can be quite an expense.
President Jimmy Carter’s Atlanta office is $102,000 per year, according to 2010 figures compiled by the Congressional Research Service.
President George H. W. Bush’s Houston office costs $175,000 per year.
President Bill Clinton’s office in the pricey real estate market of New York City is $516,000.
Obama has made much of his fortune via his books and post presidency books are lucrative for ex-presidents.
“My Life” netted Bill Clinton a $15 million advance.
George W. Bush earned $7 million for the first 1.5 million copies of “Decision Points.”
Jimmy Carter has authored 14 books. “He was broke when he came out of the White House,” presidential historian James Thurber said. “If you can write or you can write with someone else, you can write a book and make a great deal of money. Jimmy Carter did that.”
Some of the biggest money for ex-presidents is speaking feels, where Bill Clinton reigns.
Right after Clinton left the White House in 2001, he was paid $125,000 by the Greater Washington Association of Executives . “I’ve never had any money until I got out of the White House,” Clinton told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in 2010. “But I’ve done reasonably well since then.”
Since 2001 he’s earned $75.6 million giving speeches to corporations and organizations around the world, leaving many to question if it was not a form of influence peddling on behalf of his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Center for Public Integrity estimates George W. Bush has made $15 million from speeches since leaving office.
Donald Trump will be the richest president should he attain our highest office. After adjustment for inflation Thomas Jefferson and George Washington hold the record for being our, to date, richest presidents. Washington, in today’s dollars, was worth about half-a-billion dollars.
As more voters learn that the Donald truly does not want to benefit from his time in office, it may help his poll numbers rise higher. We might not ever get the president we want or need, but with Trump, at least we won’t have to pay for it.
Which raises the question, why not let the party of the president elect pay those presidential and vice presidential salary and pension bills, as they influence the decisions he, or she, makes anyway?
As an aside, Trump probably won’t want to use Air Force One either; I would bet his plane is nicer. And he can afford the gas.