- - Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“Obama’s presidential library ripped as ‘ugly waste of taxpayer resources’ by Chicagoans” (Web, Jan. 29) notes the fiscal and aesthetic concerns facing the local taxpayers in the design for former President Obama’s new Chicago-based center. However, you left out a key feature in the plan, distinct from other ex-presidential library sites, which could benefit federal taxpayers.

As presidents wind down their terms in office, they devote a lot of time to raising money for building their post-presidential libraries, the upkeep for which largely becomes the responsibility of the National Archives upon completion. The facilities host the records of the administration but are administered jointly with the presidential foundation that established it. This means taxpayers end up subsidizing what are essentially living shrines to former presidents. Mr. Obama’s plan breaks that mold.

To save on the expenses required to construct a record-storing facility up to the National Archives’ architectural standard, the Obama Foundation decided not to house the Obama records on-site. The National Archives will keep the records at one of its existing facilities and the Obama Foundation would pay to have them digitized and made available online. This saves the foundation money in its design plan, and more importantly save money for federal taxpayers who will not have to subsidize the Obama Presidential Center.

Mr. Obama has laid a path for reform of the presidential-library system at the federal level. The cash-strapped government of Illinois should follow that lead and ensure that state tax dollars don’t fund the center.


Director of research

National Taxpayers Union Foundation


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