Lawmakers looking to cut the 'allowance' of past presidents

Matthew Dallek says president's cannot escape the presidency, so they should receive funds from...
Matthew Dallek says president's cannot escape the presidency, so they should receive funds from the Treasury.(GRAYDC)
Published: Apr. 3, 2018 at 2:55 PM CDT
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Former presidents and their staffs could soon see a cut in their allowance. Decades-old legislation gives them funds after their term is finished, but some folks in Washington say that’s no longer necessary.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) pushed legislation through the House calling for a reduction in annual pensions to $200,000 a year and for every dollar made over $400,000 a year, a dollar is taken off the pension. So if a president makes $600,000 in a year, they don’t receive a pension.

“A former president has a responsibility and is going to undertake certain public work,” said Matthew Dallek from George Washington University.

The original law was signed in 1958 after President Harry Truman had left office with little income. It also has funding to take care of staffs, office space, travel, and other expenses. Dallek says these leaders don’t take off their presidential hats when they leave.

“They can’t escape the presidency and…as a result the public Treasury should provide them with a modest sum,” said Dallek.

Nowadays presidents leave office and make hundreds of thousands of dollars just for giving one speech. Thomas Schatz from Citizens Against Government Waste says taxpayers should not have to fund this excess salary.

“The big issue is a lack of transparency. It’s very hard to find these smaller items,” said Schatz.

While Hice’s legislation changes allowance, he says the bill does not affect access to security. Schatz says it should have been law years ago but was vetoed by President Obama, who said it would negatively impact staff. Schatz is optimistic it will become law under President Trump.

“It was and still is a bipartisan effort to address just a small part of how their money is spent here in Washington,” said Schatz.

Legislation now awaits a vote in the Senate.