For the most part, contemporary former U.S. presidents have cashed in after leaving office with paid speeches. Sure, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter refused to do so, but since the days of Gerald Ford, getting paid to talk happens more often than not. So, Barack Obama may have been taken aback at the level of criticism he received for news of his upcoming $400,000 speaking fee for a Cantor Fitzgerald conference. Even Elizabeth Warren hopped on the backlash bandwagon to describe herself as “troubled.” Now, House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz confirms speculation from USA Today that Congress may now go after Obama’s pension.
Chaffetz, who recently had foot surgery due to a pre-existing condition, returned to work this week for the anticipated Trumpcare vote. And ironically, his beef with Obama’s wallet is down to “hypocrisy, for Obama vetoed a bill that would have limited presidential pensions if they earned more than $400,000 annually from outside sources. Chaffetz says the bill’s former sponsors will resurrect it, and he believes that President Trump will have no problem signing away. Here’s more details:
“The Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz. “His veto was very self-serving.”
Chaffetz and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, the sponsor of the companion Senate bill, say they will re-introduce the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act this month. The bill would cap presidential pensions at $200,000, with another $200,000 for expenses. But those payments would be reduced dollar-for-dollar once their outside income exceeds $400,000.
Chaffetz, who has announced his intention to not run for re-election in 2018 (and possibly even depart early) to return to the private sector, seems oddly fixated on Obama cashing in on his presidential notoriety. However, it’s not like he and Michelle aren’t giving back — they recently announced a $2 million donation to Chicago for summer jobs programs. How does one afford such generosity on a government pension, even one as high as a presidential one?
If the GOP Congress has their way, Chaffetz will get that bill passed, but it’s hard to blame Obama for vetoing it in the first place. His predecessors have earned some staggering amounts. Both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have pulled in millions upon millions, and George W. Bush has amassed 200 paid speeches since leaving the White House.