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house Bill H.R. 3739

Should Wealthy Former Presidents Have Smaller Allowances?

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.

Mark's Opinion
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10/15/2017
Millions of hard working Americans have seen their pensions disappear over the last 30 years because congress failed to shore up and strengthen The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and corporate America walked away from it’s social contract promise to workers in their obligation to put money into their pension plans! American workers who contribute to the economic well being of America shouldn’t be punished just for living longer! Presidents or politicians shouldn’t have superior taxpayer guaranteed pensions if American workers can’t! Time to bring back the pension system for every worker in this country who’ve committed a lifetime of loyal work for their employer.
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MFein10's Opinion
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10/15/2017
Being president shouldn’t be a vehicle for wealth! Politics are for public service, not for greed!
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Leo's Opinion
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10/15/2017
With the amount they make in speaking fees, I doubt any President needs a pension.
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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.

gailnabity's Opinion
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10/15/2017
The pay to be President is nominal. The job takes a terrible toll. Furthermore, things happen in our economy, catastrophic illnesses,and expensive costs for nursing care when they are at the end of their lives. Furthermore, there could be an assignation attempt that disables them for life we know there are crazies who seek revenge against them. Even after they leave office. Their families, who have given a big chunk of their lives while their husband & father devoted themselves to 4-8 years in the public spotlight which is stressful and proscribes their lives despite the fact that they weren’t elected or paid. Their spouses have so far left high-paying jobs in support. Leave their pensions alone. Let's reform legislative pensions. That's the big budget item.
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Brandon's Opinion
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10/15/2017
Go after money that is actually affecting our budget, like the overpowering majority of it spent on the military.
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Wayne's Opinion
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10/15/2017
Change legislative pay before the presidents
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed November 13th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedSeptember 12th, 2017

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What is House Bill H.R. 3739?

This bill would reduce the allowance paid to former U.S. presidents to a maximum of $200,000 per president, indexed to inflation, from about $600,000 each year per president. 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.

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 apply to any former president or the widow of a former president as of the date of enactment.

Impact

Former presidents; their surviving spouses; their families; and taxpayers.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3739

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) introduced this bill to limit the pensions of former presidents and reduces the allowances provided to them for post-presidential expenditures:

"By identifying outdated measures and prioritizing principles of accountability, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act creates a market-based plan to save taxpayer dollars. The lifestyle of the modern post-presidency has dramatically changed in recent years, affording former presidents many lucrative opportunities, including high-dollar speaking engagements, book deals, and board memberships, just to name a few. With Americans looking down the barrel of a $20 trillion debt, we must find ways to reduce wasteful spending, and our former presidents will lead by example in cutting costs under this bill."

This legislation passed the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee on a voice vote, and currently has the support of three Republican cosponsors in the House. During the last Congress, this bill's predecessor passed both chambers of Congress unanimously, but wasn't signed into law by then-President Barack Obama before the session of Congress ended.

Of Note: The 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 are used to cover costs for offices, staff, supplies, and other services intended to help former presidents perform duties related to their unofficial public status. 


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(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 2017

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.

    Millions of hard working Americans have seen their pensions disappear over the last 30 years because congress failed to shore up and strengthen The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and corporate America walked away from it’s social contract promise to workers in their obligation to put money into their pension plans! American workers who contribute to the economic well being of America shouldn’t be punished just for living longer! Presidents or politicians shouldn’t have superior taxpayer guaranteed pensions if American workers can’t! Time to bring back the pension system for every worker in this country who’ve committed a lifetime of loyal work for their employer.
    Like (312)
    Follow
    Share
    The pay to be President is nominal. The job takes a terrible toll. Furthermore, things happen in our economy, catastrophic illnesses,and expensive costs for nursing care when they are at the end of their lives. Furthermore, there could be an assignation attempt that disables them for life we know there are crazies who seek revenge against them. Even after they leave office. Their families, who have given a big chunk of their lives while their husband & father devoted themselves to 4-8 years in the public spotlight which is stressful and proscribes their lives despite the fact that they weren’t elected or paid. Their spouses have so far left high-paying jobs in support. Leave their pensions alone. Let's reform legislative pensions. That's the big budget item.
    Like (217)
    Follow
    Share
    Being president shouldn’t be a vehicle for wealth! Politics are for public service, not for greed!
    Like (170)
    Follow
    Share
    With the amount they make in speaking fees, I doubt any President needs a pension.
    Like (135)
    Follow
    Share
    Go after money that is actually affecting our budget, like the overpowering majority of it spent on the military.
    Like (94)
    Follow
    Share
    Change legislative pay before the presidents
    Like (88)
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    How about holding retirement benefits to All elected officials to a lower limit. Retirement benefits should be LESS than they received while working... This should hold for ALL elected jobs....
    Like (69)
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    End government pensions altogether. For everyone. No former presidents. No former congressmen. No one. What's the logic of giving them pensions? "You've done a stint living like a parasite off of money stolen from other people and providing little or no value in return. Now let's finance the rest of your life so that your livelihood will never require you to provide anyone value ever again." Instead, turn those funds into endowments to fund the government so we can lower taxes and stop running up the debt.
    Like (59)
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    I will agree to reduce past presidents retirement for only one president: Obama. He was elected “poor” socialist and exited wealthy elitist socialist. Isn’t it great to an elitist?
    Like (53)
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    But this should apply to congresspersons and senators as well
    Like (49)
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    Seriously! Are you willing to have your salary/pension be based on your assets? I’m sure most of you have more than others. If a wealthy person wants to give it back, that’s there business; however they are due it for doing the job. The question was only regarding Presidents. Change it to congress and you’ll see a big swing in the responses!
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    Why are we stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. This is small stuff and denigrates the important role of president.
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    Smaller is better than none...negotiate starting from the point of none.
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    This has to be one of the most frivolous and time wasting bills I have ever heard of. It shouldn’t matter if you liked the President or not, those 4-8 years take a toll on ones mental and physical state. Out of our multi trillion dollar budget, their pension makes no difference. That pension should not be up for debate unless the entire government’s pension is also up for debate. Don’t come asking for a congressional pay raise and a presidential pay cut. Instead of trying to scrape pennies off the nations former leaders how about we go after the broken systems that are bleeding the coffers dry. Fix instead of cut!!!
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    Outgoing presidents are among the super wealthy now days because they’re paid for speeches and books they write, no other jobs pay a lifetime pension for 4-8 years if service to our country. Military personnel are not compensated in this way and their jobs make them much more at risk with very few perks. Senators and representatives should also not have excessive retirement compensation for serving 1-2 terms.
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    They should have no pension at all. They are all independently wealthy and should pay their own bills.
    Like (16)
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    I believe $200K pension is more than adequate for holding the office of President of the United States. Additionally, I believe that there should be NO congressional pensions at all.
    Like (15)
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    Their wealth is immaterial. They served this nation and the world in a roll much more important than some former CEO. I think they are underpaid while serving so leave the pension alone. If they decide to donate it or burn it, the choice is theirs and they have earned it, whether you agree with their politics or not.
    Like (14)
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    Why have any pension for them. I don’t have one and have been working for thirt years.
    Like (12)
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    Lost my pension in Rhode Island even after I was vested. Reduce there pensions and give back the pensions that were wrongly taken from everyone.
    Like (11)
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