Spend verses Save (submitted to CDT for Letters to the Editor on 2/26/2010)
Is it possible for our elected officials such as our new President to discuss ways to save money in our country rather than ways to spend more money? My mind seems to float away into the land of "nowhere" when I hear talk of spending trillions more on this or that. Let's just take a sharp look at one possible cost cutting measure - the amount that it costs the U.S. taxpayers to keep former U.S. Presidents in the style to which they are accustomed.
Chief executives leaving office prior to 1958 often entered retirement pursing various occupations and received no federal assistance. President retirement benefits were non-existent until the enactment of the Former Presidents Act (FPA) in 1958. According to Congressional Research Service of March 2008, GSA annual funding for former Presidents was: Carter, $518,000, Bush $786,000 and Clinton $l,162,000. These figures include Pensions, Staff Salaries, Staff Benefits, ravel, Rental Payments, Telephone, Postage, Printing, Supplies, Equipment and "other services of $65,000 to $83,000. That does not include the estimated $24 million a year the country spends on security. Effective January 1, 2001, the annual salary of the president of the United States was increased to $400,000 per year including $50,000 expense allowance according to "About.com." Oh, by the way presidential widows are provided $20,000 annual lifetime pensions and free postage. I bet the 1.2 million of unemployed US citizens would love free postage and $20,000 a year. Just to touch on health are for our President and members of Congress, they participate in health-related services that many in the U.S. will never see. With paricipation in the Federal Employees Benefits Program (FEHB), there is no waiting period and they are all covered no mater what - with no precondition clauses - effective immediately. And here's the best part. The government pays up to 75 percent of the premium. That government, of course is funded by taxpayers the same ones who cannot afford health care themselves. Woud it take an "act of congress" to cut some of these perks? You bet it would.