Joni Ernst, GOP senator, demands cap on ex-presidents’ payments

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A Republican senator introduced legislation Tuesday to cut down on the amount of money ex-presidents

A Republican senator introduced legislation Tuesday to cut down on the amount of money ex-presidents siphon from taxpayers, looking to limit their pensions and office expenses.

Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Republican, said that while presidents should keep getting taxpayer-funded security details, they don’t need the more than $1 million in pensions and office equipment that former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush are each expected to cost in 2018.

Her bill would cap the annual pension payment at $200,000 per president, and would impose a cap on how much an ex-president’s office can cost. Initially the cap would be $500,000 a year, dropping over a decade to $250,000 per presidential office.

“The reality is that post-presidential life already provides fruitful opportunities on its own, with former presidents raking in tens of millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more,” Ms. Ernst said.

The Washington Times reported last month that Mr. Obama is poised to become the most expensive ex-president during his first full year out of office, in 2018. Between his $236,000 pension, his $536,000 office rent in Washington, D.C., and other expenses, Mr. Obama will cost taxpayers some $1,153,000, according to the Congressional Research Service.

His immediate predecessor, Mr. Bush, will get a $225,000 pension payment next year and his office in Dallas will cost $497,000, plus a higher communications and printing budget — bringing his total cost to just more than $1 million, the CRS said.

Of the five ex-presidents alive, only former President Carter is slated to get less than $500,000 in taxpayer money next year. Since he only served four years, he doesn’t qualify for a pension, and his office expenses are far lower than the others.

Ms. Ernst said nothing in her legislation would curtail the lifetime security provided for ex-presidents.

But she said it’s time to update the Former Presidents Act, which became law in 1958 and called for ex-presidents to get payments. It was inspired by former President Truman’s struggles to earn a living after leaving the White House.

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