Taxpayers Foot $3.7M Bill for Ex-Presidents’ Phones, Postage, Travel and More (page 2)
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Costs for Carter, the only other living former president, came in at about $500,000.
Widows of former presidents are entitled to a pension of $20,000, but Nancy Reagan, the wife of former President Ronald Reagan, waived her pension last year. The former first lady did accept $14,000 in postage.
The cost totals for ex-presidents don’t include what the Secret Service spends protecting them, their spouses and children. Those costs are part of a separate budget that isn’t made public.
Funding for ex-presidents dates back to 1958, when Congress created the Former Presidents Act largely in response to President Harry Truman’s post-White House financial woes, the Congressional Research Service said. The goal was to maintain the dignity of the presidency and help with ongoing costs associated with being a former president, such as responding to correspondence and scheduling requests.
These days, a former president’s income from speaking and writing can be substantial, and ex-presidents also have robust presidential centers and foundations that accept donations and facilitate many of their post-presidential activities.
Noting that none of the living ex-presidents are poor, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, introduced a bill last year that would limit costs to a $200,000 pension, plus another $200,000 that ex-presidents could use at their discretion. And for every dollar that an ex-president earns in excess of $400,000, his annual allowance would be reduced by the same amount. The bill died in committee.
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