Editorial

Ex-presidents are expensive

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, has proposed legislation that would set the annual cost of pension and benefits of former presidents at a little more than $200,000 a year.

That may sound rather generous to many taxpayers and it is, but far less generous than what taxpayers actually pay.

The pension itself is currently $203,700 a year, but this is only a fraction of the cost of ex-presidents. Ernst's bill would not eliminate or reduce the Secret Service protection that former presidents get throughout their lives, but the bill would cut out the unlimited spending on things like communications, office space, staff and travel expenses.

Just paying office rent comes to over $400,000 each for two former presidents, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

These are people who can get six figure amounts for making a single speech and seven figure amounts for authoring a book (or more likely attaching their name to a book authored by a ghost writer).

The cost of ex-presidents is a tiny fraction of the federal budget but it has significant symbolism. We wish Ernst success in her efforts.