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house Bill H.R. 1496

Should Wealthy Former Presidents Have Smaller Pensions?

Argument in favor

Former presidents earn enough money from giving speeches and writing books, and don't rely on their allowance from the federal government. This bill maintains the payments as a safety net — but saves the money when it isn’t needed.

Steven's Opinion
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10/16/2019
The idea of giving ex-presidents a salary was originally implemented because having an ex-president living in poverty would embarrass the nation. If an ex-president is already wealthy the salary isn’t necessary.
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Adam's Opinion
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10/16/2019
You should not get a salary as a retired president.... Teachers, Police and Firefighters and soldiers don’t get to retire after 4 or 8 years and are more public servants than any one in Congress or the White House
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Bob's Opinion
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10/16/2019
There is no reason to pay somebody who isn't working and who already makes more than enough money from kickbacks and insider trading during their time in office to last a lifetime.
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Argument opposed

Former presidents should be richly compensated for their service to the country once they leave office. It may not be their old salary, but these payments represent the nation’s gratitude for the president’s contributions while in office.

jimK's Opinion
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10/16/2019
Meaningless bill. This is bill to get election year ‘creds’ for proposing legislation that has little impact on the budgets and little overall budget saving. There should be fines for useless stuff like this that does not underwrite a political strategy or make any kind of impact. Deliberation and gathering congresspeople together to vote and then administering the details would sure cost more than any sum of money that could be recovered. It’s a stupid waste of time.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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10/16/2019
BUDGET DUST!!!!! Address real issues please. Like our bloated military budget and corporate welfare.
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10/13/2019
Have you looked at how much these people age during their time in office? This is a pittance. A drop in the bucket. Repeal the tax cuts act that GOP pushed through under trump- tax the top income earners more. Tax the wealthy and especially the uber wealthy.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedMarch 5th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1496?

This bill would reduce the allowance paid to former U.S. presidents to a maximum of $200,000 per president each year. The Former Presidents Act would be amended to allow each former president to receive a lifetime annual annuity of $200,000 — plus an annual monetary allowance of $200,000 — each adjusted annually for inflation.

The annual allowance would decrease by the amount that a president’s adjusted gross income in a tax year exceeds $400,000. Any former president who holds an appointive or elective position in the federal government that pays more than a nominal amount would be denied the lifetime and annual allowance.

This bill would increase former presidents’ spouses’ annual allowance from $20,000 per year to $100,000 per year. This would apply to both spouses of living former presidents and widows/widowers of deceased former presidents. 

Nothing in this bill would impact the security and protection of a former president or their family members, or the funding to provide that security and protection.

This bill would only apply to future former presidents. It would not apply to anyone who is already a former president or the widow of a former president as of the date of enactment.

Under current law, presidents who leave office receive annual pensions of $220,000-$280,000.

Impact

Former presidents; former presidents’ surviving spouses; former presidents’ families; and taxpayers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1496

The CBO estimates that this bill would save the federal government $2 million over the 2020-2024 period.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Jody Hice (R-GA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to limit former presidents’ pensions and reduce allowances provided to them for post-presidential expenditures

“In recent years, former presidents have had no shortage of lucrative opportunities upon leaving office. Despite this, taxpayers are still footing the bill for the official expenditures of former Commanders-in-Chief. The Presidential Modernization Act modifies the pensions provided to future former presidents and their spouses by taking into account the modern-day financial realities realized after leaving office while keeping in place funding for security and protections needed in today’s world.”

After this bill passed the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Rep. Hice added

“Times have changed, and no former U.S. president today is dependent solely on taxpayer subsidies to support their quality of life. The modern post-presidency allows presidents to earn big bucks through book tours and speaking engagements, and this bill serves as a simple and fair method to reform presidential pensions. With strong bipartisan and public support, I’m glad the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act cleared the committee by unanimous consent, and I look forward to its consideration on the House Floor.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, adds that lucrative post-presidential opportunities obviate the need for taxpayer-funded office allowances for former presidents:

“This legislation would end government payments to former presidents who often earn substantial income from post-presidential work. History shows that former presidents do very well financially after they leave office, making it very unlikely that they need taxpayer funded office allowances to make ends meet.”

This legislation passed the House Oversight and Reform Committee by a unanimous vote with the support of one House cosponsor, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs by voice vote with the support of five bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including three Republicans and two Democrats.

In the 115th Congress, this legislation passed the House by voice vote with the support of three Republican House cosponsors. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Ernst, passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs by voice vote with the support of three bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat.

In 2016, then-president Barack Obama vetoed a previous version of this bill on the grounds that the sudden loss of funded would create “onerous” demands on presidential staff and General Services Administration (GSA) staff.


Of NoteThe Former Presidents Act, which this bill amends, was passed in 1958 because prior to that the federal government offered no pension or retirement benefits to former U.S. presidents. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first president to leave office and receive a pension, while both Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman began receiving benefits upon the bill’s enactment.

In 2015, around $2.4 million was set aside for former president allowances — ~$600,000 per president. These taxpayer funded allowances were used to cover costs for offices, staff, supplies, and other services intended to help former presidents perform duties related to their unofficial public status. 

In a September 4, 2019 tweet about this bill, Rep. Hice cited figures from Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk to make a point about this bill’s necessity. In a September 3, 2019 tweet, Kirk said that the Obamas, who are worth over $135 million, will cost taxpayers $1.176 million in 2019. He argued that former president Obama could “give two speeches on Wall Street at his rate of $1.2M each and take the cost off the taxpayer for the whole year,” but chooses instead to have taxpayers “subsidize his lifestyle.”


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell and Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: "Photograph of the Four Presidents (Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon) toasting in the Blue Room prior to leaving for Egypt... - NARA - 198522" by Unknown or not provided - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons)

AKA

Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend the Act of August 25, 1958, commonly known as the "Former Presidents Act of 1958", with respect to the monetary allowance payable to a former President, and for other purposes.

    The idea of giving ex-presidents a salary was originally implemented because having an ex-president living in poverty would embarrass the nation. If an ex-president is already wealthy the salary isn’t necessary.
    Like (50)
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    Meaningless bill. This is bill to get election year ‘creds’ for proposing legislation that has little impact on the budgets and little overall budget saving. There should be fines for useless stuff like this that does not underwrite a political strategy or make any kind of impact. Deliberation and gathering congresspeople together to vote and then administering the details would sure cost more than any sum of money that could be recovered. It’s a stupid waste of time.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    BUDGET DUST!!!!! Address real issues please. Like our bloated military budget and corporate welfare.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    You should not get a salary as a retired president.... Teachers, Police and Firefighters and soldiers don’t get to retire after 4 or 8 years and are more public servants than any one in Congress or the White House
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    There is no reason to pay somebody who isn't working and who already makes more than enough money from kickbacks and insider trading during their time in office to last a lifetime.
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    Have you looked at how much these people age during their time in office? This is a pittance. A drop in the bucket. Repeal the tax cuts act that GOP pushed through under trump- tax the top income earners more. Tax the wealthy and especially the uber wealthy.
    Like (15)
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    They can give the money back to charitable causes if they'd like but it shouldn't be determined on a former President's wealth.
    Like (13)
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    **Political pensions/Healthcare are a scam- lifetime support- and should be completely canceled. **Politicians go in either Rich already OR miraculously become Rich during their terms... Corruption of the Swamp.
    Like (13)
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    Except for the current President, I believe they have more than earned that money.
    Like (11)
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    Pull the bill. This doesn’t deserve a hearing.
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    Nay, but I WOULD like to see a net worth cap placed onto social security. There is no rational reason (including those arguments of entitlement) for billionaires to collect social security while some of our seniors are starving. Shove those who have a net worth of 3 million off, and increase the benefit amount to a livable income. 🎯No Americans need to starve. PS For those who say, I paid in... well actually you pay in for many social good programs (SNAP, SSI, TANF) and all those programs have income/net worth caps. So, you can either pay in more -since more Americans are living longer- or you can redistribute existing funds more efficiently.
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    Yes. The exception being Trumpf. Impeach, convict, jail the SOB. No pension for this grifter. Too bad tarring and feathering aren't in vogue. He'd gladly impose that on others.
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    It’s an 8 year job tops, they shouldn’t get a pension period.
    Like (5)
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    They all have done the job, and will be well off after leaving office. Will congress also lose part of their pension if they are rich when they leave office? Something to think about- look at Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, both are now multi millionaires due to their time spent in government jobs.
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    How much allowance do we give to military personnel after their four years of life threatening service? Need to put an end to the politician welfare system. When your done your done.
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    Ridiculous bill! Why don’t wealthy Congress members and Senators give up their health insurance? This bill is nonsense. Women and men who serve this country should be supported by the public to do so. If they do a bad job, vote them out. That’s how it works. Presidents who have served admirably deserve our support and recognition. Those who don’t get impeached and, if necessary, prison.
    Like (4)
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    So should congress.
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    This is meaningless fluff. Move on to pertinent topics.
    Like (4)
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    Nothing burger bill!
    Like (3)
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    Really?.....with all that is going on in the world, THIS is a "concern"?
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