by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | November 14, 2017 10:25 am
The House handily passed legislation yesterday that will reduce the pensions and federal benefits provided to former presidents. That’s very good news, but I have my doubts about it getting through the Senate. The bill was approved by a voice vote. Lawmakers agreed that modern-day former presidents don’t need financial assistance from the government if they already earn salaries in the millions. Boy, isn’t that true. Plus, the ones living have all been disastrous for this country in one way or another. I don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior or incompetency.
Under a law established in 1958, former presidents are eligible for an annual six-figure pension, plus funds for staff salaries, office space and other expenses. That’s just ridiculous. I can understand perhaps a modest pension and security, but the rest is bull crap. The author of the bill is Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA). Hice questioned the necessity of providing funds for former presidents who can make millions of dollars from book deals and speaking engagements. “Because of these opportunities, it’s no longer necessary to provide taxpayer-funded support to former presidents in the same way as envisioned in 1958,” Hice said during House floor debate. That’s exactly right and it’s long past due.
This year alone, benefits shelled out for former presidents. paid for by we, the taxpayers, cost $2.84 million, according to Hice’s office. It’s a no-brainer when you look at the multi-million dollar book deals presidents and their spouses nail when they leave office. Obama is getting approximately $400,000 a speech. Former President Clinton — as well as his wife, former First Lady Hillary Clinton — earned an average of $210,795 for each paid speech from the time he left office in 2001 until her 2016 campaign launch, according to a CNN analysis. But really, it was more like $500,000 a pop. That doesn’t include shady deals and other behind the scenes pay to play deals.
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The legislation would ostensibly reduce the presidential pension by about $4,000 to $200,000 per year and cap the budget for each former president’s office and staff expenses to $500,000 annually. That’s still too much in my book, but at least it’s a move in the right direction. Funds available for presidential office expenses would be reduced for every dollar a former president earns over $400,000. Eventually, the staff and office budgets would be phased down to $350,000 in six years and $250,000 in 10 years.
The amount of security provided to former presidents and their families will remain the same. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate. Perhaps they will have a moment of sanity and ethics and pass this. I’m not holding my breath over it though.
Similar legislation was sent to Obama by the House and Senate in 2016. I know you will be shocked to hear he vetoed it. He said he feared it would have unintended consequences by forcing out presidential office staffers without a transition period and possibly affecting government operations for former presidents’ security. That’s just so much bull crap and everyone knows it. Obama did say he would sign the law if his concerns were addressed, but naturally he left office before anything was done. Hopefully, this issue will now be handled as it should have been long ago.
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