Former President Barack Obama is about to become the most expensive ex-president, costing taxpayers $1,153,000 next year, according to a new Congressional Research Service memo looking at the official allowances for the five living former chief executives.
His $1,153,000 budget request for 2018 is more than $100,000 higher than George W. Bush’s request for next year and nearly $200,000 more than Bill Clinton’s expected budget. George H.W. Bush is slated to get $942,000, while Jimmy Carter will get less than half that, at just $456,000.
Every former president gets an office, expenses and, in some cases, an annual pension payment, thanks to a 1950s-era law enacted after former President Harry S. Truman struggled for income when he left the White House in 1953.
While most ex-presidents since Truman have found ways to make their life beyond the Oval Office financially rewarding, the taxpayer-funded perks have remained — and Mr. Obama is the latest to take them.
By far the biggest cost for ex-presidents is renting office space. Mr. Obama’s office — 8,198 square feet in D.C. — will cost taxpayers $536,000 next year, the most of any ex-president. Mr. Clinton’s New York office is bigger, at 8,300 square feet, but slightly cheaper at $518,000. The younger Mr. Bush’s office in Dallas is $497,000, while his father’s space in Houston is $286,000. Mr. Carter’s Atlanta office is just $115,000.
Mr. Obama’s pension payment is also the highest, at $236,000. Mr. Clinton is second with $231,000, followed by the younger Mr. Bush at $225,000, the CRS memo says, citing figures from the General Services Administration, which administers the 1958 Former Presidents Act.
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The younger Mr. Bush’s communications budget is higher than any of the others, at $69,000, and he’ll get the most for printing and supplies. By contrast, Mr. Obama is slated to get just $11,000 for communications.
Mr. Carter’s figure is so low because he only served a single term in office, his only time as a federal employee, meaning he didn’t put in the five years needed to get health benefits.
But Mr. Carter gets another benefit. Because of an arrangement he struck to turn his home over to the National Park Service when he dies, taxpayers do upkeep on his house in Plains, Georgia, The Washington Times reported in 2011.
In 2010, that cost came to $67,841, and included sweeping his tennis court twice a day, clearing branches from the estate’s walking trails and cleaning the pool.
Presidents’ cost figures don’t include protection, which the U.S. Secret Service provides for former presidents and their spouses for life. Those costs aren’t public, but reportedly run into the tens of millions of dollars.