This isn’t a new bill, and no one specifically called out Clinton specifically when the vote was cast. But with so much focus on the Clintons’ income these days, this bill might as well be called the ‘Clinton Cash’ Act.
The bill would cap a former president’s lifetime federal benefits at $200,000 and allow him another $200,000 for an allowance. But for every dollar a president earned over $400,000 a year, this annual allowance would be deducted by a $1. (Apparently we’re now means testing our former presidents.)
Clinton last year received $950,000 from the federal government, about half for office space. Former President George W. Bush was paid about $1.3 million for his pension and expenses. If this bill was law, Clinton, who made around $9.7 million in speaking and book royalties in 2014, wouldn’t get any allowance at all.
Proponents of the bill argue that modern day ex-presidents aren’t exactly hard up for cash. “No current former President has claimed publically [sic] to have significant financial concerns,” an April 2014 Congressional Research Service report on the issue notes.
(Well… That report may just need a small tweak considering Clinton has said publicly he can’t afford to give up his paid speaking engagements because he’s “gotta pay our bills.”)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), at an event last week on wasteful spending, said she was going to introduce a similar bill in the Senate.
“I believe our American taxpayers shouldn’t be subsidizing these extra efforts for their office space to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars…when those gentlemen can make the money themselves to provide for those types of situations in one single speech,” she said.
Now we have to wonder how many former senators turned seven-figure income-earning lobbyists would be willing to scale back their pensions…