The Former Presidents Act was passed in 1958 to “maintain the dignity of the office” by providing pensions and various other subsidies to former presidents to ensure that they would not fall on hard times. It was also a way to guarantee that our Commanders-in-Chief would not trade on their former office in order to enrich themselves. But modern presidents have done just that, and have earned millions, sometimes even hundreds of millions, of dollars using the prestige of their former position to charge high speaking fees and get lucrative book deals.
In theory, there is nothing wrong with this. Presidents, like all Americans, should have the right to make money using their skills and experience. But now that our presidents are making millions after they leave office, I don’t think American taxpayers should be paying extra to support their luxurious lives. It is fair to provide a $200,000 pension, and limited personal expenses and Secret Service protection, but other benefits should be paid for by the former president.
The House has already passed the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act (H.R. 1777), a bipartisan bill that will drastically limit the benefits our former presidents receive once they make over $400,000 per year in private earnings. Now, it is time to tell the Senate to pass it as well. While Americans are struggling to make ends meet, our presidents shouldn’t expect us to foot the bill for their lavish lifestyles.
Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton have made millions since leaving office. In fact, since leaving the White House in 2001, Bill Clinton has made upwards of $127 million in speaking fees alone. They have become part of the one percent by trading on their office and using it to line their pockets, so why should American taxpayers continue to pay extra to “maintain their dignity?” They clearly don’t need our money.
This isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s just common sense. Join me and ask the Senate to pass H.R. 1777 and stop charging the American people for our presidents’ lavish lifestyles.
by James Hanson of Mount Dora, FL
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