We have heard a lot of serious talk lately from the parasite politician class about how entitlement spending is driving America into bankruptcy, and how Social Security, Medicare, and other government programs which provide financial benefits to the little guy will have to be trimmed back in order to save money, lower the annual deficit, and decrease the national debt.
That is all well and good. Perhaps the scale of each of these programs should properly be revised downward along with all other categories of government spending, especially military expenditures and the overall costs of government. I’m all for that.
But you can rest assured that the very last people who will ever be forced to tighten their belts in order to resolve the current financial crisis will be the parasite politicians themselves, their wives and their families. They have feathered their nests nicely, thank you, and no one is going to talk about, much less mess with, their financial perks, prerogatives and benefits.
Entitlement spending on politicians – including former politicians -- is going to keep going up.
Case in point:
President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into a law a measure giving him, George W. Bush and future former presidents and their spouse’s lifetime Secret Service protection.
Never mind the fact that President Obama, George W. Bush, and every other living former U.S. president, are multi-millionaires, well able to afford their own lifetime protection, the Congress has seen fit to pad their benefits at the expense of the American taxpayers at a time when the nation is teetering on the edge of financial ruin.
Of course, the real and lasting financial benefit of being a former president these days is the fame, clout and influence they retain after leaving office. Most of them command millions of dollars every year just in speaker’s fees alone.
Not surprisingly, the new law had bipartisan support from politicians on both sides of the aisle. It passed the House of Representatives by voice vote and raced through the Senate unopposed. It scuttles a 1990’s cost saving law which imposed a 10-year limit on Secret Service protection for former presidents, starting with George W. Bush.
Those who supported the former law said it would save the government millions of dollars because former presidents could hire private security firms (as Richard Nixon did after he decided to forgo Secret Service protection in 1985).
So much for saving any money; the 1990’s cost cutting measure has and will never affect a single former president. It was a total waste of time and effort. Politicians today just don’t care about saving the taxpayers millions of dollars, especially when it comes to increasing their own entitlement benefits.
It wasn’t always that way. Long before, and even after Social Security became law in the 1930’s to benefit the little people of America, the U.S. federal government provided no pension or other retirement benefits at all to former United States presidents. They were on their own and most of them got along fine with no problems.
Legislation introduced in 1912 to establish a presidential pension failed. The Secret Service didn’t even begin to protect current presidents until 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley. It wasn’t until 1958 that the Former Presidents Act took effect because former President Harry S. Truman was having trouble financing an office staff, which prompted the legislation.
Now former presidents under the FPA are entitled to a pension, staff and office expenses, medical care or health insurance, and Secret Service protection for life. The measure was enacted to “maintain the dignity” of the Office of the President by providing financial benefits so that they would not have to enter unsuitable occupations after leaving office.
You see, we have to have a law passed in order to maintain the dignity of the presidency. Without it, both current and former presidents would have no dignity. They might otherwise have to become used car salesmen.
Former Presidents currently receive a pension immediately upon leaving office that is equal to pay for the head of an executive department (Executive Level I), which was $191,300 as of January 1, 2008. They don’t have to wait until old age like the rest of us peasants.
But that’s not all. Transition funding for the expenses of leaving office is available for seven months. It covers office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition. Private office staff provided by the Administrator of General Services and funds. Persons employed under this subsection are selected by and responsible only to the former president for the performance of their duties.
On top of that they receive an office staff with full benefits, travel expenses, office rental expenses, telephone, postage, printing, supplies and equipment expenses for the rest of their lives. The former president’s budget just for the year 2009 requested $8,520,000 for those types of expenses and the amounts are growing by leaps and bounds every year.
Today, former presidents have the expensive distinction of being called and treated like Mr. President for life.