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Just Explain It: Who Pays For Presidential Perks?

Just Explain It

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Being the President of the United States comes with a tremendous amount of pressure and responsibility. However, the commander in chief does enjoy preferential treatment most of us will never experience.

Some of those perks include: having his limo transported by plane wherever he travels, getting to see first-run and not-released movies free of charge, never stopping for a stop light or sign and his own private zip code.

Which brings us to today’s Just Explain It.

What’s the value of the presidency when you add in all the perks for being Commander-in-Chief?

We may never be able to put a dollar amount on the value of the presidency. That’s because some of the costs associated with the position are buried in many different budgets and scattered between different governmental departments.

Let’s take a look at some of the presidential perks covered by your tax dollars. They not only make the president’s life easier, they’re for security and practical purposes too.

Number one -- the president’s salary is $400,000 a year. The Chief Executive also gets a budget for entertainment, business and travel expenses.

Number two -- Transportation. To get the president from place to place safely, he has Air Force One, Marine One and a limo available at a moment’s notice. A 2012 Congressional Research Service report found that Air Force One costs about $180,000 an hour to operate.

According to the Hawaii Reporter, one round-trip flight to Honolulu by President Obama last month cost about $3.2 million. But the president made two of them because of the fiscal cliff crisis. That doubled the price tag to $6.4 million.

Number three – The White House. For the 2008 fiscal year, Bradley Patterson, a retired Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, estimated the cost of running the White House was almost $1.6 billion. And that amount didn’t include unpublished classified expenses.

The president’s White house staff also comes at a steep price. In 2012, the White House reported its payroll grew from $37 million in 2011 to $37.8 million. The list includes 468 names. 139 of which make more than $100,000 a year.

Number four – Secret Service access. Protecting the President takes a great deal of manpower. The agency’s budget this year is $1.6 billion. A portion of that will go toward protecting president while in office and for life.

And number five – Retirement plan. According to CNBC, President Obama will receive over $191,000 a year for life as soon as he leaves office.

A former president’s net worth can grow substantially in retirement. After two terms in office, The Atlantic magazine reported Bill Clinton’s net worth at around $40 million. The increase was due to numerous speaking engagements and book deals.

Did you learn something? Do you have a topic you’d like explained? Give us your feedback in the comments below or on twitter using #justexplainit.

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