Should Barack Obama or the next president get a raise?

In 2011, the average Fortune 500 company leader made $12 million a year. President Obama has a $400,000 annual salary, gets a $50,000 expense account, and a really cool house to live in. But he has to buy his own food in some cases.
The debate over presidential pay dates back to the Prohibition era, when people were shocked in 1930 when baseball star Babe Ruth was given a salary that paid more than President Herbert Hoover’s.
Ruth legendary response was, “So what? I had a better year than he did.”
President Obama’s compensation is above average compared with other world leaders, including the leaders of China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany. Many are not far behind, though, with compensation in the US$200,000 – $300,000 range. And a handful are paid much more; the leader of Singapore gets about US$1.7 million a year.
The U.S. Constitution outlines how the president can get a raise and lets Congress decide on the timing through legislation.
Article II, Section 1 says that “The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”
President Washington received a salary of $25,000 in 1789, which was a lot of money at the time. It’s difficult to estimate the current value; projections range from $300,000 to $4 million in current dollars (depending on the economic barometer). But Washington also had to cover most of his own expenses. Luckily, the father of our country was a wealthy landowner.
Since the time of President Washington, there have been five presidential pay raises, which were effective in the next presidential term after Congress passed them. For example, in January 1969, the outgoing president was Lyndon Johnson; the pay raise took effect when Richard Nixon became president.
Pay hikes came in 1873 ($50,000), 1909 ($75,000), 1949 ($100,000), 1969 ($200,000), and 2001 ($400,000).
The chief benefactors of those pay raises were the first presidents to receive them, since they weren’t as susceptible to inflation. So in current 2012 dollars, Ulysses S. Grant received $945,000 in 1873; William Howard Taft got a hefty $1.9 million in 1909; Harry S. Truman received $950,000 in 1949; and Richard Nixon got $1.2 million in 1969. President George W. Bush’s pay was not considerably higher due to inflation over the past decade. But he did see his pay double compared with President Bill Clinton’s salary in 2000.
Basically, because there is no cost-of-living adjustment, the presidents make less each year they are in office.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dragonpuff
    Jun 02, 2013 @ 16:54:31

    Thanks for posting this Syrin.


  2. WakeUpAmerica
    Jun 03, 2013 @ 09:06:47

    All of ’em, any of ’em. The position of POTUS is sorely underpaid considering the duties. It’s a sad day in America when the CEO of a criminal corporation like Haliburton, for instance, is paid several times more than the Potus.


  3. dragonpuff
    Jun 04, 2013 @ 05:21:53

    It is almost criminal the small amount of money Presidents make. If you come into the WH rich–then you may leave office without too many headaches. When Bill Clinton left the WH he and his family were almost destitute. They had no home of their own having been in government most of his career and most of his funds having gone to lawyers. I believe a friend lent them a home. Of course he’s rolling in high cotton now.

    Harry Truman couldn’t even pay office staff after his term ended. Under the
    Former Presidents Act, after 1958 POTUS’s finally got pensions, health care, money for office staffs, etc. But we have not kept up to what our presidents should be paid.


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