Ex-Presidents Cost Us $3.7M In 2012

Former presidents and what they cost us

You know that we more or less keep paying our presidents once they’re out of office, right? In 2012, the four former US Presidents still living cost us a whopping $3.7 million.

Being president is an expensive gig, and those costs don’t necessarily curb once a POTUS leaves the Oval Office for good. We still pick up the tab to cover pensions, compensation, and benefits for office staff, travel, office space, even postage.

According to data just released by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush cost the American taxpayer $3.7 million total in 2012. The most expensive of the bunch is also the guy we haven’t heard from at all since 2008: Bush the younger with $1.3 million.

But it’s not all bad news. The $3.7 million for 2012 is actually about $200,000 less than we spent on ex-presidents in 2011, and 2010’s sum was even higher than that. Plus, it’s practically nothing compared to the trillions the fed has been spending each year.

Still, in rough economic waters where everyone is looking to tighten the ol’ belt, many are wondering whether our four ex-presidents should still command such a sum from the taxpayer when they rake in millions in books sales, speaking engagements, etc. Heck, most of them are independently wealthy apart from their political careers as well.

The Former Presidents Act stipulates that out ex-presidents receive an annual pension of roughly $200,000 a year, plus $96,000 for a small office staff. They also get extra help once they leave office, part of the reason George W. Bush’s expenses were higher than the others.

He took home $400,000 for 8,000 square feet of office space in Dallas, in addition to $85,000 for telephone costs. Another $60,000 went to travel costs.

Bill Clinton came in second with just under $1 million, with most of his money spent on office space. George H.W. Bush came in third, with nearly $850,000. Carter’s costs came in around $500,000.

Widows of ex-presidents are also entitled to a small pension of $20,000, but Nancy Reagan, the wife of Ronald Reagan, waived her pension in 2012. She did, however, accept about $14,000 in postage.

None of this includes Secret Service costs. They continue to act as bodyguards for ex-presidents and their families after office, but those costs are separate and not disclosed to the public.

Do you think that we should stop paying so much for our ex-presidents?