The years of the Obama presidency are going to be remembered. They will be remembered as a period of excessive spending. History writers will remember, and the taxpayers will never forgive, the extravagant Obama vacations that ended up costing $100 million.
For $100 million, the American people could have an additional F35 fighter. The fighter would certainly do more for America than Mr. Obama ever did.
But now, there is a new outrage. It is the Barack Obama Presidential Library.
Since the end of World War II, it has become obligatory for former Presidents to have their own library. Barack Obama is only the latest to have this monument to their political ego.
Mr. Obama’s library, now under construction, is estimated to run well over $1 billion by the time it is completed in 2021. While it will not have any actual documents on site, it will have a yoga studio, a basketball court and a “test kitchen.”
Is this a presidential library or a community center?
Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library has his own personal apartment above his library. But Mr. Clinton is not the only one. George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter both have apartments at their presidential libraries, which are maintained at public expense.
Presidential libraries have their origin with the idea that a President’s papers could be stored at a library that would be a center for scholarship. Instead, Presidential libraries are now just another perk of being President.
The Former Presidents Act was signed in 1958, as a result of Harry Truman leaving the White House almost penniless. Former Presidents get a pension of $205,000 a year. They get an office, staff, Secret Service protection and a travel allowance.
In his first year, Barack Obama’s office alone is going to cost taxpayers $1.1 million. George W. Bush’s office isn’t much cheaper at $1 million. And that is just the cost of the office space.
Why do former Presidents need an office, or at least one paid for by the taxpayers? Why do former Presidents need a taxpayer funded staff? Why do they need a taxpayer funded travel allowance?
While Truman was broke, being a former President is now a lucrative job. In addition to the pensions, former Presidents, particularly former Democrat Presidents, get large publishing advances for their memoirs. They get lucrative speaking gigs, such as the one Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 in 2010, by a Russian bank.
Presidents can also start foundations, much like the Clinton Crime Foundation. From 2001 to 2015, the Clinton (Crime) Foundation raised $2 billion.
Maybe it made sense to give Presidents a retirement package back in 1958. But now, sixty years later, it is beyond insane. It is a phenomenal waste of money.
In 2018, former Presidents are not leaving the office broke. Donald Trump will not leave office broke. Less than two months after leaving office, Barack Obama and his wife received $65 million for the rights to their memoirs. Bill Clinton received a $15 million advance. George W. Bush received an advance of $10 million. That does not even factor in his personal and family wealth.
So why do they need a pension, a library, a staff and a travel allowance?
The answer is they don’t.
America is still spending too much money. Congress is always looking for places where they can cut spending.
How about starting with the Former Presidents Act?