Ex-presidents receive millions from taxpayers

MGN Online
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 8:00pm

Being leader of the free world comes with a lot of perks and a new report shows they keep rolling in long after a commander-in-chief leaves office.

According to the Congressional Research Service, taxpayers forked over $3.7 million last year to pay for the four living ex-presidents: Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. And that number doesn't include the additional money spent on lifetime Secret Service protection.

The Former Presidents Act became law during the Eisenhower administration, just after Harry Truman left office. After leaving the White House, Truman could barely pay his bills. Since then, everyone who's taken the oath has been guaranteed an enviable allowance that covers their pension, office, staff, travel, even postage. Those numbers can quickly add up.

George W. Bush got $1.3 million last year, the report says. Part of that went to fund 8,000 square feet of office space in Dallas. Bill Clinton spent most of his money on office space as well. The first President Bush received taxpayer-funded benefits of $850,000. For Jimmy Carter, it was close to $500,000.

These former presidents also make money from book sales, speaking engagements and appearances. Clinton and "Bush 43" earned speaking fees in the $10 million -- $15 million range last year.

With all the talk in Congress about spending cutbacks, there doesn't appear to be much discussion about presidential perks.

A proposal last year by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to limit costs to a $200,000 pension and $200,000 in expenses didn't make it out of committee.

But not everyone's getting in the act. The only presidential widow - Nancy Reagan - turned down her $20,000 pension last year. 

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