Hillary Clinton on being rich but broke

Don’t you hate it when wealthy folks cry poor?

Former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton had to backpedal from a comment about her financial state of affairs this week. Clinton said that she and her husband were “broke” after leaving the White House. Clinton was talking about her personal finances as she begins a national tour for her latest book, “Hard Choices.”

In an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, Clinton said: “We came out of the White House not only dead broke but in debt. We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to piece together the resources for mortgages for houses, for Chelsea’s education. You know, it was not easy.”

Clinton explained that she and the former president had several million dollars in legal bills when they left the White House in 2001, reported The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker.

“As I recall we were something like $12 million in debt,” Clinton told Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America.”

But then Clinton had to circle back to say she can appreciate the regular folks who struggle to pay their bills.

“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton told Roberts. “It’s an issue that I’ve worked on and cared about my entire adult life. Bill and I were obviously blessed; we worked hard for everything we got in our lives, and we have continued to work hard.”

But the Clintons aren’t struggling any more. They have earned more than $100 million over the past 14 years, reported Rucker. Since leaving her good government job, Hillary Clinton has been able to command about $200,000 or more per speech.

As the saying goes, “Don’t hate the player; hate the game.”

The sad case of Casey Kasem

Unfortunately, there’s yet another story about estate planning gone bad.

This time it involves the iconic radio DJ Casey Kasem, former host of “American Top 40.” His wife and daughter are battling over keeping Kasem alive.

A judge ruled this week that Kasem, who is in hospice care suffering Lewy body dementia, should be fed and hydrated, reported the Los Angeles Times’ Nardine Saad. Doctors in Washington had stopped the hydration and nutrition and some medications after they determined that the process was too painful for the 82-year-old Kasem.

Kasem’s wife, Jean Kasem, wanted to continue the feeding. His daughter Kerri Kasem, who was named temporary conservator, did not.

“At the heart of the family’s acrimony is a $2 million trust that will be equally distributed among Kasem’s three children from his first marriage and his daughter Liberty, whom he had with Jean Kasem,” a spokesman told Saad.

“So what can we take out of this to help us in better dealing with the aging process, especially when it comes to family and friends?” asked Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner writing for CNBC.

There are at least five lessons, Lynch writes. Here are two of them: Second marriages require special planning, and it’s always about money, even if it isn’t.

Lynch writes: “Estate planning, especially in a second marriage, can require a lot of thought and effort. Does everything go to the surviving spouse, does it get split with the kids, does it go to the wife first, and what’s left goes to the kids? If it goes to the spouse directly, the kids generally see that as you just stole from them. If it goes to the spouse first, then what is left over goes to them, then every dollar she spends is seen as taking money directly out of out their pockets, slowly, for the rest of her life. Either way, there is a lot of tension that does not get better over time. Even if the kids do not care about money, they care that the spouse (who is not their mom) is getting it.”

Most important, talk, Lynch says. Have open conversations in which everyone is present. I’ve certainly learned that lesson.

“You need to speak to your family when you are competent to discuss your wishes . . . and generally I prefer that everyone is in the room at the same time,” Lynch wrote. “The message to the family and the spouse needs to be consistent. Having mini conversations with family members means that everyone’s interpretation of the situation can be totally different. We are all competent and alert until we are not . . . then it’s too late and things become way too subjective.”

Weekly newsletter and live chat update

I’m taking some much needed time off to enjoy the summer and spend time with my family. So I won’t be sending out an e-letter for a few weeks. And I won’t have my online chat. Both will return July 3.

Color of Money question of the week

Around the country there are battles being waged over the minimum wage. Workers and community and labor activists are fighting to have companies pay people enough money to live a decent life.

The movement is paying off in some places. The Seattle city council recently voted to raise the local minimum wage to $15 an hour, phased over a three- to seven-year period.

So last week I asked: Do you think it’s time to raise the roof on the federal minimum wage?

“The minimum wage should be increased, but not gradually over a seven-year period,” wrote Patrick Wilkerson of Lexington Park, Md. “It is important for the United States GDP that wages keep up with inflation. If Congress and CEOs can have six-figure starting salaries, why can’t the average citizen have an immediate livable wage?”

Why, indeed?

Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”
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