When he was President, Barack Obama vetoed a measure that would have clipped presidential pensions if they made more than $400,000.
He’s probably glad he did that, because that’s exactly the amount that Obama is getting now for a single speech.
It was an extremely rare veto and on an issue that seemed to be a no-brainer. In fact, it passed both houses of Congress unanimously. And the White House made no mention that Obama would veto it. So it was a complete surprise – right out of the blue. But now we know why he did it.
That’s why Republicans in Congress are promising to re-introduce the same bill hoping President Trump will sign it.
“The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and sponsor of the 2016 bill. “His veto was very self-serving.”
Chaffetz and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, the sponsor of the companion Senate bill, say they will re-introduce the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act this month, USA Today reports. The bill would cap presidential pensions at $200,000, with another $200,000 for expenses. But those payments would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once their outside income exceeds $400,000.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on Chaffetz’s committee, was a co-sponsor of the original bill. “Cummings definitely supports the concept, and if we can work out the technical issues with the bill that arose late in the last Congress, we expect he would strongly support it again,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Hoffman Werner.
President Trump has not taken a position either way, but did say he’d like to take a closer look at pensions for elected officials.
“The first thing I’m going to do is tell you that if I’m elected president, I’m accepting no salary, OK?” he said at a town hall in 2015. “They get benefits that nobody else can even think about, OK. And they don’t like to talk about it. But we’ll work on that.”
Under the Former Presidents Act, the nation’s five living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama — get a pension equal to the salary of a current cabinet secretary: $207,800 in 2017. They also get $150,000 to pay staff, and “suitable office space, appropriately furnished and equipped.”
In 2015, the entire benefit package ranged from $430,000 for Carter to $1.1 million for George W. Bush.
With Obama joining the club as of Jan. 20, the 2017 spending bill approved by the House Wednesday contained nearly $3.9 million for all the former presidents through Sept. 30 — a $588,000 annual increase.
An Obama spokesman said he had no comment on the legislation.