Yesteray, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015, legislation to reform the system for providing former U.S. presidents certain benefits and perks. Original co-sponsors of the bill include U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). This is the companion bill to the House of Representatives bill, H.R. 1777, introduced by Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
Currently, legislation known as the Former Presidents Act provides former presidents with an annual pension and a series of benefits that taxpayers pick up the tab for. These perks include, but are not limited to communications, office space, staff, and travel expenses. In fiscal year 2015, former U.S. presidents cost taxpayers more than $2.4 million in travel, office space, communications, personnel, and other expenses.
The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act examines how former presidents are spending taxpayer dollars and would set the annual allowances for former presidents at $200,000. The legislation would then reduce the amount of perks available dollar-for-dollar for annual income over $400,000 generated by former presidents the previous year.
“Taxpayers should not be on the hook for subsidizing former presidents’ lives to the tune of millions of dollars,” Ernst said. “Although this is a narrow item, this is an issue of restoring taxpayer trust by looking at reforms in the allowances and perks given to these former presidents who generate significant incomes after leaving office. At a time when we are more than $18 trillion in debt, it is critical that we stop talking and start cutting wasteful spending.”
“As Americans, we are grateful for the service of former presidents and have seen how many of them can go on to lead active and impactful careers once they’ve left office,” Rubio added. “But taxpayers no longer need to foot the entire bill for all the endeavors presidents undertake after leaving office, which is why I support Joni Ernst’s effort to reform the benefits afforded to former presidents.”
“Last year, Presidents Clinton and Bush collected $2.2 million from taxpayers. I believe the majority of Americans would prefer to keep that money in the treasury,” Kirk stated.