Ah, the riches of public service. We are now assured the Obamas will be able to finance their post-White House lives with record-breaking book deals. The New York Times wants you to know that the people fed through the federal government teat for eight years, lavishing upon themselves taxpayer vacations to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, will now have more money thrown at them as they scamper away from the conflagration they’re leaving behind.
According to various book agents, it appears private citizen Barack Obama should expect to be handed a book deal in the range of $45 million. His wife, the woman whose mission as first lady was to make sure your kids never got enough to eat at school, is also said to be worth a book contract of at least $10 million.
Public service now gets you filthy, fabulously rich. And as we’ve seen with the Clintons, is now a game for grifters, selling access and influence, with the highest bidder rewarded with the most influence.
It’s absurd and dangerous enough that the presidency is now one of the fastest ways to become one of the super-rich, but that’s not enough for the corrupt. Despite the economic disaster we are still enduring, all former living ex-presidents, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush receive a $205,700 yearly pension.
Made possible by the Former Presidents Act and administered by the General Services Administration, the act also provides funds by request of the ex-president for office support, staff and travel. For a 1958 act meant to “maintain the dignity of the presidency by helping former commanders in chief avoid hard times like those that befell Harry S. Truman,” notes Politico, it is now appears to be a taxpayer-funded slush fund used by those whose work has made sure you have no job, no health care, no security, and no law and order.
Case in point: “Bill Clinton’s staff used a decades-old federal government program, originally created to keep former presidents out of the poorhouse, to subsidize his family’s foundation and an associated business, and to support his wife’s private email server …” Politico reports. “Taxpayer cash was used to buy IT equipment — including servers — housed at the Clinton Foundation, and also to supplement the pay and benefits of several aides now at the center of the email and cash-for-access scandals dogging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.”
Mr. Clinton, in other words, despite his growing wealth, continues to take money you sent in as tax ostensibly to help run the country. CNN reported earlier this year that Mr. Clinton and his wife Hillary, the Democratic presidential nominee, earned $153 million in speaking fees alone from 2001 until last year. Forbes calculates the couple earned $230 million since leaving the White House. Mr. Clinton has requested and received $16 million from the GSA fund, more than any other ex-president, since he left office.
Noticing the absurdity, Rep. Jason Chaffetz recently sponsored a bill that would have capped the GSA “allowance” fund expenses for ex-presidents at $200,000 a year. Passing the House and Senate by unanimous voice votes, Mr. Obama promptly vetoed it six months before his own White House party is due to end.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, explaining the veto laughably complained, “Unfortunately, this bill as written would immediately terminate salaries and all benefits to staffers carrying out the official duties of former presidents — leaving no time or mechanism for them to transition to another payroll.”
Aww. The Clintons, a quarter-billion-dollar couple running the $2 billion foundation empire, wouldn’t know how to make the transition. Apparently everyone who has served as president, all of whom are multimillionaires, simply wouldn’t be able to adapt. So we must continue to send our money to the super-wealthy ex-president politicians, the very people who have made sure you continue to live paycheck to paycheck.
Mr. Obama has been very busy securing and expanding his taxpayer-funded post-presidency cash cow. One of the first things he did in his second term was to extend to himself, current ex-presidents and all those to come, including their spouses, lifetime Secret Service protection. Which we, of course, pay for. They never tell us how much it costs, but it’s plenty. Current law ends protection for ex-presidents a decade after service.
Don’t get me wrong — of course ex-presidents should have the best protection possible. It should be mandated. And the ex-presidential couples, with all their wealth, should pay for it themselves.
Part of the liberal chattering class are already swooning over the idea that Mr. Obama would become the first ex-president billionaire. It looks like he was being honest when pitching all that hope and change in 2008, and how much better things were going to be. Too bad we didn’t know he was speaking only of himself.
• Tammy Bruce, author and Fox News contributor, is a radio talk show host.
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