Former presidents entitled to $200K pension

<p class="p1"><em><strong>What is the retirement pay for an ex-president of the United States?</strong></em></p>Stock

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<p class="p1"><strong>What is the retirement pay for an ex-president of the United States?</strong>

<p class="p2">The Former Presidents Act, passed 60 years ago and subsequently amended, sets the pension for erstwhile heads of state at the basic pay rate for federal executive department heads, about $200,000 a year.

<p class="p2">“Prior to 1958, chief executives leaving office entered retirement without federal assistance. By the end of the 19th century, public sentiment reportedly dictated that it was not appropriate for former Presidents to engage actively in business affairs,” reads a 2016 Congressional Research Service report on ex-presidents’ benefits.

<p class="p2">“Suitable post-presidency occupations included practicing law, obtaining a university professorship, or writing for a newspaper or magazine. Some former Presidents, like Rutherford B. Hayes, became successful entrepreneurs. Others, like Ulysses S. Grant, suffered financial losses and had personal possessions taken by creditors.”

<p class="p2">The report says lawmakers, spurred by Harry Truman’s post-presidency money woes, passed the pension law in 1958 — the amount then was $25,000 a year — to “maintain the dignity” of the chief executive’s office by providing support for ex-presidents. But the idea of presidential pensions, the CRS report says, predated the legislation by nearly 50 years.

<p class="p2">“In 1912, discussions began in Congress about providing former Presidents and their spouses with annual pensions. That year, industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie reportedly offered to fund $25,000 annual pensions for all future former Presidents and their widows until they were provided for by the federal government,” reads the report.

<p class="p2">“The pensions were to be funded by the Carnegie Foundation of New York, which was founded just a year earlier. The New York Times reported that many Members of Congress deemed it inappropriate for a private corporation to provide pensions to former Presidents.”

<p class="p2">Some in Congress, prompted by Carnegie’s overture, introduced legislation that year to offer pensions to ex-presidents and widowed former first ladies. But the bills died in committees.

<p class="p2">Under the Former Presidents Act and other federal provisions, ex-presidents may receive funds to cover transition costs and travel expenses and an allowance to pay staff and rent office space. And they receive Secret Service protection.

<p class="p2">The widows of former presidents are eligible to receive a $20,000 annual pension until they die or if they remarry before turning 60. Nancy Reagan declined the pension.

<p class="p2">The total appropriation requests, submitted by the General Services Administration, for ex-presidents for fiscal year 2018, according a CRS fact sheet released in August:

<p class="p3">Jimmy Carter — $456,000.

<p class="p3">George H.W. Bush — $942,000.

<p class="p3">Bill Clinton — $1,063,000.

<p class="p3">George W. Bush — $1,140,000.

<p class="p3">Barack Obama — $1,153,000.

<p class="p2">The appropriations for the previous year:

<p class="p3">Jimmy Carter — $444,000.

<p class="p3">George H.W. Bush — $868,000.

<p class="p3">Bill Clinton — $1,045,000.

<p class="p3">George W. Bush — $1,138,000.

<p class="p3">Barack Obama — $370,000.

<p class="p2">For 2016:

<p class="p3">Jimmy Carter — $437,000.

<p class="p3">George H.W. Bush — $818,000.

<p class="p3">Bill Clinton — $969,000.

<p class="p3">George W. Bush — $1,047,000.

<p class="p2">Personal protection isn’t funded via the GSA, but through the Secret Service, which — for security reasons — doesn’t disclose how much it costs.

<p class="p4"><strong>Online:</strong> www.archives.gov/about/laws/former-presidents.html; https://fas.org/sgp/crs.

<p class="p4"> 

<span class="s1">The I</span><span class="s2">nformer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is re</span>searched and written by <strong>Andrew Perzo</strong>, an <em>American Press</em> staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098 and leave voice mail, or ema<span class="s2">il informer@americanpress.com.</span>