October 20, 2017
Will Barack Obama's $200,000 Pension Be Yanked Over High-Paid Speeches And Book Deals?

Barack Obama is wasting no time earning a lot of money post-presidency. Besides signing a $65 million book deal with Penguin Random House, he and Michelle Obama are already in demand on the speaking circuit. The two are signing lucrative contracts that are resulting in a significant amount of criticism. It was reported last week that he'll pocket $400,000 to speak at a Wall Street firm in September and received the same amount for an A&E Networks interview.

It's possible Congress may do something about Barack Obama's income when it comes to his high-paid speeches or anything else putting a lot of money in his bank account.

USA Today reports that the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Sen. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), is leading the effort to reintroduce a bill that limits what a former president can earn once out of office. The bill was vetoed by Obama last year.

According to the report, the legislative bill would limit the pensions of ex-presidents to $200,000, with an additional $200,000 in expenses. The pension would be reduced if a president's outside income exceeds $400,000.

Chaffetz sponsored the bill in 2016, but Barack Obama vetoed it after it passed the House and Senate; there was no attempt by congressional leaders to override the measure.

Obama argued that the bill would have "unintended consequences" and "impose onerous and unreasonable burdens" on former presidents because it would require them to lay off staff and find new office space.

What's more, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced the companion bill in the Senate and is set to reintroduce it.

Chaffetz thinks that the fact that Obama vetoed the legislation is "self-serving."

"The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing. His veto was very self-serving."
Sen. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top Democrat on Chaffetz's committee, co-sponsored the original bill and supports reintroducing it. The overall consensus is there needs to be some "technical issues" worked out.

Although President Trump hasn't taken a position on the bill, he told supporters during his campaign at a 2015 town hall that he'd look into pensions of elected officials.

"The first thing I'm going to do is tell you that if I'm elected president, I'm accepting no salary, OK? They get benefits that nobody else can even think about, OK. And they don't like to talk about it. But we'll work on that."
As it stands, five former presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama -- receive a pension equal to the cabinet secretary's salary of $207,800 in 2017. All of them also get $150,000 to compensate staff, and "suitable office space, appropriately furnished and equipped."

A spokesman for Barack Obama said he had no comment on the bill that Chaffetz plans to reintroduce.

How do other former presidents feel about the legislation that would cap what all of them can make after leaving the White House? George H.W. Bush is on board with the change for future presidents, according to his spokesman, Jim McGrath.
"At age 93, he recognizes that any change to the act would have a greater impact on the other former presidents. For the sake of future occupants of the office, he does think some consideration should be given to the public role former presidents play — and we are told that very positive conversations addressing that and other matters have taken place."
Do you think Barack Obama's $200,000 pension should be reduced since he's commanding so much money in the private sector since leaving office?

[Featured Image by Darren Hauck/Getty Images]