Just as an almost absolutely compelling topic, the NCAA victory moving our Badgers on to the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ hits, there comes a topic that simply has to take precedence.
President Barack Obama has proposed, in his FY2017 budget request, $3,865,000 in appropriations for the expenditures relating to former Presidents. That is, according to the Congressional Research Service, an increase of nearly 18% (actually about 17.9%) from the FY 2016 budget.
The last budget request called for an increase of $25,000 for this line item. This new request provides for a line item increase of $588,000 now that he will stand to benefit in short order. So, the President believes that he needs a raise in his retirement benefit. I seriously doubt that this proposed raise came with the best interests of earlier retirees from that position at heart, as can be plainly seen in the year-earlier budget request.
Our past Presidents began to receive retirement payments as the result of the Former Presidents Act of 1958. That was apparently passed in recognition that former President Truman was having financial problems. That amount currently is $205,700 annually and the House of Representatives apparently has some discussion ongoing over that amount at present. If that number is increased by this proposed amount without any new actions by Congress, the retired Presidents would receive some $242,500 per year. President Obama would be gifting himself some $37,500 per year if this proposed budget is accepted by Congress.
Is it possible that there needs be some reconsideration of the 1958 Act to establish some relationship between the amount authorized for former Presidents and their actual needs as established by income/accumulated wealth other than provided by the taxpayers? I question the wisdom of lifetime rewards to former politicians at any level since that obviously promotes career politicians. Too often, it seems that career politicians come to believe that we want what is good for them rather than what is good for us and our country; we do little or nothing to refute this mistaken belief by providing ever-increasing retirement benefits.
Further, If Donald Trump is elected to the Office of the President, we might want to re-consider the retirement benefit in its entirety since he tells us over and over that he is rich. That $200,000 or so would be lost on his deposit slip.