Barack and Michelle Obama are being criticized for agreeing to lucrative and somewhat controversial deals since leaving the White House. As Donald Trump’s first 100 days in the presidency ends, the former first couple is living it up on exotic vacations and pulling in a lot of money.
It’s no secret that Barack and Michelle Obama have just been paid a $60 million advance to write their own memoirs about life in the White House, the most any former president and first lady have earned for a book deal.
While the book deals are jaw-dropping, they aren’t as controversial as the new deals the Obamas are currently making. This is especially true of the former president, who was just paid $400,000 to give an interview at A&E Networks advertising event. It was there that Barack was asked by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin how he dealt with frustrating moments when he was president, to which he replied, “For starters, by not having a Twitter account.”
Obama’s lucrative appearance was at the Pierre Hotel in Midtown Manhattan as he was part of a “History Makers” event that lasted 90 minutes. According to The Hill, it was conducted in front of the cable network’s advertisers and hosted by A&E chief Nancy Dubac.
Barack Obama will also earn $400,000 from a Wall Street firm to give a speech in September at a healthcare conference. Considering Obama’s past remarks about Wall Street bankers and citing them as culpable of the 2008 financial crisis, this move is roundly viewed as “hypocritical.”
Former President Barack Obama has reportedly agreed to accept $400,000 to speak at a health care conference https://t.co/d0x3kgLJ3s
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 26, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) said last week that Obama’s agreement to speak at a Wall Street conference for $400,000 is “troubling.” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) echoed Warren’s sentiments, stating that it’s “unfortunate” that Obama is “doing something like this.”
A spokesman for Obama defended his agreement with the Wall Street firm to give a speech.
“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since [former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt].”
When it comes to Michelle Obama, her speaking fee rivals that of a former president’s. According to Yahoo Finance, one can expect to pay Michelle $200,000 per speech, the same amount former President George W. Bush makes. Her first appearance was made in Orlando last week at the annual American Institute of Architects conference. She spoke about the Let Girls Learn initiative and how her life has been since leaving the White House. The former first lady also reasserted that she’s definitely not running for president in 2020, a hope many Democrats have.
Michelle Obama gets paid a $200,000 speaker fee https://t.co/Q57cTgYSrT
— Backstorymom1 (#44) (@Backstorymom1) May 1, 2017
Van Jones, a former aide to Barack Obama during his presidency and CNN political analyst, thinks Barack Obama should go on a “poverty tour” before accepting paid speeches.
“If [Obama] would do a poverty tour first, from a moral point of view, it would be great for him to do,” Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union.
Jones continued that if Obama would “do a tour, go to Appalachia, go to native American reservations where they are shoving these pipelines down their throats and they don’t even have clean water, go to South Central, go to the Arizona border, where you have a lot of poverty.”
Hillary Clinton was heavily criticized for her Wall Street speeches, which highlights the irony of Barack Obama getting paid almost twice as much to do the same thing. Critics are more puzzled by Obama agreeing to do so since he openly called Wall Street bankers “fat cats” and publicly berated them following the recession.
Barack and Michelle Obama left the White House with high approval ratings and remain extremely popular. The latest news about the amount of money they’re making for speeches is controversial to several in even their own political party, but many argue it’s no different than what previous presidents and their spouses have done after being in office.
[Featured Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]