Being the most powerful elected official, chief executive, head of state, and commander in chief in the USA, the President of the United States of America receives some of the best job benefits and perks in the world. Beyond the power and the fame is the:
The current Presidential salary is capped at $400000 per year, with George W. Bush being the first to receive this amount. Considering the great burden of running the most powerful country in the world, this is quite a modest sum. It is interesting to note that until recently, the salary was only half this amount, and one of the main reasons it was raised was simply because with the common cost of living raises of 1-4% per year, several salaries for other federal officials were set to surpass the Presidential salary in just a few years. Details of the executive's salary can be found in the Constitution (Article II, Section 1) and the United States Code (Title 3, Chapter 2).
Below is a chart of the President's salary over time. It should be noted that only two presidents have declined the executive salary: George Washington and John F. Kennedy. Herbert Hoover did accept his salary, but donated it all to charity.
1789 $ 25000
1873 $ 50000
1909 $ 75000
* A $50000 expense account was implemented in 1949.
The White House is a wonderful home. While you don't have to pay rent or sign a lease, you can only stay there for four years (with the possibility of extending for another four years). It can easily accommodate the President, including family and pets. It's fully furnished, and includes a bowling alley, putting green, jogging track, billiard room, tennis courts, swimming pool, and movie theater. If the President or First Lady dislike the artwork, they have the complete collections in the National Gallery of Art at their disposal. Of course, if they need to get away from it all or entertain some foreign dignitaries, the presidency also comes with a woodland retreat. Just head on over to Camp David and enjoy the cozy cottages on this 125 acre property.
While the President technically has to pay for his own food, he does have a number of expense accounts (see below) that he can use to purchase it. Regardless of who pays, the White House has 5 full time chefs to prepare any sort of meal for the White House staff. In addition, there is a huge collection of vintage wine which is still in stock from when Thomas Jefferson spent more than $10000 purchasing it.
When traveling on the ground, the preferred method is the Presidential Limousine. With a new model built for each Chief Executive, this highly customized stretched Lincoln Continental is full of luxury and technology.
If traveling by air, short trips are typically made in Marine One, the presidential helicopter. Longer trips are made in Air Force One, a modified Boeing 747 equipped with conference rooms, dining room, quarters for the President and First Lady, offices for staff, areas for the press, medical facilities, and two galleys for a total of about 4000 square feet.
Those men in the dark sunglasses and trench coats do more than just look cool. The POTUS has some of the most highly trained bodyguards in the world. The best and brightest of the Secret Service protect the life and health of the President and his family 24 hours a day, and in fact, for the rest of their lives.
The President may hire a total of 34 staff for domestic service and administration. This is above and beyond the positions already officially part of the Executive Branch of the federal government. In addition, the President may hire the temporary services (one year or less) of an unlimited number of professionals, experts, or consultants as required.
As if the staff above is not enough, the President may hire up to 100 assistants for the White House Office. He may hire up to 3 people to work specifically at the Executive Residence. As with above, the President may hire any number of professionals, experts, or consultants as needed. It should be noted that normal or expected maintenance of the White House and its grounds are already covered by the budget.
In addition to his salary, the President gets numerous expense accounts including:
- General account ($50000)
- Official expenses of the White House office
- Entertainment expenses
- Separate entertainment expenses for official presidential functions
- Traveling expenses for the president and anyone traveling with him (above and beyond the free limo, helicopter, and airplane rides)
In addition there is an account designated for "unanticipated needs" which is not to exceed $1 million per year. These unanticipated needs include anything for the furtherance of the national interest, security, or defense, including personnel needs and needs for services. Basically if the President is over-quota for anything listed above, he can dip into this money.
As if all of this other money wasn't enough, the President's pension is quite hefty. The annual pension is equal to the yearly salary of a cabinet member (currently over $150000). Some examples include Bill Clinton who is expected to receive over $6 million and Ronald Reagan who received more than $2 million during his lifetime. Interestingly enough, George Bush has declined his pension.
In addition to the pension, the ex-president receives free postal service for non-political correspondence, free office space, and $96000 a year to pay for office help. During the first 30 months after his term has expired, the president is also eligible for up to $150000 per year to hire a staff to help with the transition.
For every administration since Herbert Hoover, a presidential library is built to honor the former president and is used as the official storage facility of all the president's official documents by the United States National Archives and Records Administration.
1 All furniture and similar items are owned by the Federal government, and are the charge of the Director of the National Park Service.
I feel I must thank the noder who softlinked Monica Lewinsky.