Its expensive being the president. The White House is basically the world's most lush, high tech, and well-protected mansion, and while it's built on swamp land, Washington DC is very high rent, high-value land. The president has an entire specially built high tech luxury 747 and fleet of other vehicles such as helicopters, boats and limousines. He has a huge security detail that is made up of some of the finest on earth. He has to attend incredibly expensive events around the world and travel a lot.
In total, last year alone the presidency cost about $1,400,000,000 (as opposed to, say, the Queen of England, who cost Brits around $60,000,000 to literally live like a queen). Most of that is travel expenses and security, plus the food and so on for staff.
Now, this isn't a bash on the Obama family, although they certainly do like to live in style. I can't help thinking they're like a white trailer park family that won the lottery, buying gold plated cars and the entire Dale Earnhart Franklin Mint plate collection. But the truth is, every president is very, very expensive and that's not going to stop any time soon.
I just can't work out why these guys get paid a salary. The president of the United States gets paid $400,000. In addition to this salary, presidents also get a $150,000 expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and approximately $19,000 for entertainment each year.
Every president now walks away richer than when they took office and never have to work another day in their lives. President Obama is worth an estimated $11 million (as of 2010), and earns more than $1 million a year from the book Dreams of my Father. In 2007 Barack Obama was worth just over $1 million. That doesn't include his wife's money, either.
He doesn't need a salary. he doesn't need an expense account, or a travel account, or money for entertainment. Mitt Romney, should he win, needs the money even less. George W Bush didn't need the money. Why is the president paid? He has no expenses, anything he wants he gets. Room and board is absolutely free. The White House decorations are out of the budget, not their pocket. They have no travel costs. And these people are wealthy enough to pay for whatever they want on their own to begin with, you cannot be a serious presidential candidate and be poor.
And before you say "things have gotten worth" if you adjust their monetary worth and holdings for inflation, every single presidential candidate has been wealthy. George Washington's net worth? Over $500 million in today's money. Only a handful (such as Lincoln) were worth less than a million bucks.
When Mitt Romney became governor in Massachusetts he refused to take pay. He probably will do the same thing - if possible - should he be elected president, and while that's a pretty small detail, it is the right step to take. Until at least a budget is passed, congress shouldn't be paid either. Since you walk away from congress much wealthier than going in and can only run for office if wealthy, congressmen probably ought not be paid either.
Until the federal government cuts back the debt at least in half nobody in the three main branches ought to be paid a dime. Combined, the President and both branches of congress plus the Supreme Court earn about $100,000,000 a year which in terms of federal budgeting is infinitesimal but it still makes a statement. Each year, congress can choose to reject its COLA (Cost of living adjustment) but it rarely if ever does. And yet they demand more money from you the taxpayer and spend it so poorly the US goes into debt more than a trillion dollars each year.
Why are these guys getting paid at all? I'd love to see a constitutional amendment that utterly bans pay for congress the supreme court, and president if the debt goes over a certain percentage of the GDP. Certainly they should voluntarily waive their pay until they can get their act together.
And the first politician to stand up and say "I'm not taking a dime until we do what's right" would be pretty popular for it. Even if the law requires pay, he can simply donate its entirely to something worthy, like a charity or donate it to the national debt's interest payments.
President Herbert Hoover donated his entire presidential salary to charity. Certainly at least some of the others can afford that.