Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Former United States Presidents retirement packages

Outgoing Irish TD’s from the last Dáil received more than €13 million in pension lump sums and termination payments and on top of these outgoing TD’s aged 50 and over will receive more than €4 million annually in pension payments. Seven ministers of state shared close to €250,000 in severance payments, including three who were returned to the Dáil – (McGuinness €25,276, Browne €24,952 and Micheál Kitt, now Leas Ceann Comhairle €25,276)

Former US Presidents

Former Presidents of the United States have only qualified for a pension since 1958. The current value of a former President’s pension is €138,366 and it is aligned to the salary of the Head of an Executive Department (e.g. Cabinet Secretary / Secretary of State, Secretary of Commerce etc.)

Former Presidents retiring before 1958 often pursued various occupations in retirement and received no federal assistance. The industrialist, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), who created US Steel announced a plan in 1912 to offer $25,000 annual pensions to former Presidents but many Members of Congress considered it inappropriate that such a pension should be provided by a private citizen. Legislation was passed to create a presidential pension but it was not enacted until 1955 when the 33rd President, Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), experienced financial limitations in recruiting an office staff.

Today, transition funding is available to former Presidents and Vice Presidents for seven months to facilitate their return to private life. These funds are used to provide suitable office space, staff remuneration, communication services, printing and postage associated with the transition.

The maximum annual rate of remuneration for an individual staff member of a former President cannot exceed the pay of a Level II appointee to the Executive Schedule (e.g. Deputy Secretary of a Federal Government department) and the current rate is just under €120,000. A former President supplements staff remuneration costs with private funds.

A total of €2.6 million is provided for former Presidents, their offices and Presidents widow in the 2010 Budget. This comprises €360,000 for Jimmy Carter, €576,000 for George Bush Snr, €756,000 for Bill Clinton, €907,000 for George H W Bush. The sum of €9 is provided for postage used by widows.

The aforementioned sum covers pension compensation, office rental, travel supplies and equipment.

State Funeral

United States Presidents are also entitled to other benefits. These include a State Funeral at the request of the surviving family. The sitting President officially announces the death of a former President and commander-in-chief by presidential proclamation and offers the nation’s condolences to the former President’s immediate family. Suitable honours are rendered by units of the armed forces under orders from the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary of the Army as his personal representative. In turn, the Secretary of the Army delegates to the Commanding Officer of the US Military District of Washington the overall authority for planning and implementing funeral arrangements for former Presidents. Each living former President has also prepared a formal funeral request which is kept by the MDW. There is a long standing tradition that an officer escorts the immediate family of a deceased military member until burial and the in case of former President’s that duty falls on the commanding general of the Military District of Washington.

Each branch of the armed forces provides personnel and support to a State funeral and, as a former commander-in-chief, each former President is entitled to be buried in the National Cemetery at Arlington Virginia.

Congress honours a former President by allowing his coffin lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda for a State ceremony followed by public viewing of the closed coffin.

Medical Expenses

Former Presidents and their spouses, widows and minor children are entitled to treatment in military hospitals.

Secret Service Protection

The Secret Service provides lifetime protection for former Presidents who entered office before 1 January 1997. Surviving spouses receive lifetime protection until remarriage. Those entering office after 1 January 1997 and their spouses receive protection for 10 years. Protection for the spouse ends upon divorce or remarriage. The widow of a President receives protection for a year following the death of a President. Temporary protection can be authorised at any time. Protection for a former President’s children is available to them until they reach 16 years of age, or for a period not exceeding ten years, whichever occurs first.

Presidential Libraries

With the exception of Richard Nixon, every former President since Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), the 31st President, has had a presidential library managed by the National Archives and Records Administration established in his name.

The process of establishing a presidential library may begin with the establishment of a presidential library foundation – a private organization under the leadership of friends of the President. This usually enjoys tax exempt status and is allowed to receive donations and contributions which are used to purchase a site and construct a library building, that is deeded to the US Government. The Archivist deposits the President’s official records and papers in it and assumes management of the library.

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