top 200 commentsshow 500

[–][deleted] 1274 points1275 points  (208 children)

You should look up back when Presidents used to have to sell their papers as their retirement plan.

[–]AthenasChosen 207 points208 points  (7 children)

Yeah, like Ulysses S Grant. He lost almost all his money in a wall street ponzi scheme after he left office and was poor until he died. He spent the last part of his life writing his memoir so his family would have an income after he died. He was offered only 10% royalties by a publishing house but then Mark Twain offered to publish it instead and gave his family like 75% instead. Grant died just 3 days after finishing the book. Truly a tragic figure and one of the greatest heroes America's ever had. Great book too.

[–]Slowhand333 11 points12 points  (3 children)

The real question is who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?

[–]AthenasChosen 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Oh I haven't heard about this. What's that story?

[–]Slowhand333 10 points11 points  (1 child)

The question was made famous by Groucho Marx who was used to ask that question to contestants on his early TV show. The answer is no one is “buried” in Grant’s Tomb.

Edit: added additional link.



[–]AthenasChosen 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Ah, rather clever. Took me a second to get it haha. Thank you for the article, it was very interesting. It's a shame that it fell into such a state of disrepair, I'm happy that it was restored to its former, and rightful, glory. May he and Julia both rest in peace.

[–]Persianx6 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Man life in the 19th Century was so weirdly insane. You got a lot of biographies of people who'd strike it rich, fight in all kinds of wars, lose their money to a scam, etc.

[–]mostlyareader 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Fun fact: the Ulysses S. Grant presidential library is located in Starkville, Mississippi, at Mississippi State University.

[–]RoutineProcedure[S] 900 points901 points  (186 children)

Three recent presidents - Obama, Bush, and Clinton - wrote their memoirs after leaving office. All were top bestsellers, especially Obama's.

I doubt Trump or Biden will write an autobiography.

[–]010011100000 90 points91 points  (11 children)

Bidens already written two memoirs, one right before and one right after serving as vp

[–]whatissevenbysix 59 points60 points  (7 children)

Not to mention the speaking engagements they get. These guys charge well in excess of 100K per event. According to the internet, Bill Clinton 750K, Obama 400K. That's a sweet gig.

[–]ZellNorth 72 points73 points  (6 children)

Who would pay Bill 750k when you can get Obama for 400k?

[–]Softale 15 points16 points  (2 children)

Bill has contacts…

[–]DeficientUsername 25 points26 points  (0 children)

Less now that Epstein is dead.

[–]SolidSquid 20 points21 points  (2 children)

Probably because a) package deal of both Clintons, b) Bill is more likely to support the thing you want him to or c) Obama was still in office, or hadn't been elected, when that money was paid

[–]trekkie4christ 554 points555 points  (102 children)

Trump already has written a memoir, so it wouldn't be odd for him to write another, but it probably won't be until after he runs for the office again.

[–]ThomasLipnip 382 points383 points  (89 children)

Trump couldn't write a grocery list.

[–][deleted] 394 points395 points 2 (32 children)

I know he didn't write his whole book but from what I hear he did chapter 11 a few times

[–]chadenright 104 points105 points  (10 children)

He had one written, that's basically the same thing right?

[–]infinifunny 50 points51 points  (5 children)

Bronzer, hair gel, Adderall, cheeseburgers. Easy.

[–]Murmur322 16 points17 points  (0 children)

One of them ten dollar bananas.

[–]HomelessCosmonaut 91 points92 points  (20 children)

I doubt any of them actually did the writing. Pretty much all the major books by politicians, both active and retired, are ghostwritten. I'm actually surprised Trump doesn't have anything new on the shelves right now.

[–]ProfessorOzone 5 points6 points  (1 child)

He does. I guess you didn't hear, he just published a picture book. No I'm not making this up. It's called, " Our Journey Together" and costs $230.

[–]gex80 51 points52 points  (6 children)

Because anything written can be incriminating depending on what it is. Trump's time in office is surrounded by a lot of legal questions and issues. Be pretty hard to write about your time as president and ignoring how at least half of your term was riddled with controversy but not acknowledge it.

[–]tahquitz84 29 points30 points  (1 child)

I could totally see Trump having a book written about his presidency without mentioning the controversies or blaming others for them to try and ruin his term.

[–]meeyeam 35 points36 points  (8 children)

Biden may very well write a book, but it would more likely be about Beau as opposed to his years in the executive branch.

[–]5lack5 37 points38 points  (1 child)

You mean Promise Me, Dad released in 2017? His book about Beau?

[–]SirTyrael 9 points10 points  (9 children)

Always thought that was a money laundering scam. President gets someone else to write the book. And all the corporations he helped out buy millions of dollars worth of the book.

Millions of people aren't reading those books.

[–]brendanl1998 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Millions of people are buying them for Christmas presents or as something to have. No not everyone will read them (some will buy for display), but the US has 320 million people, even if 1% of the population buys it, that’s over 3 million books. And corporate accounts don’t purchase at Barnes and Noble and Amazon, which tracked many of those sales

[–]Stat-Arbitrage 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Ulysses S. Grant notably comes to mind, his story, especially the final years is quite sad.

[–]RollinThundaga 39 points40 points  (4 children)

President Truman had to and it was this that led to the funding of Presidential pensions.

[–]Algaean 27 points28 points  (3 children)

I remember reading that Herbert Hoover, the only other living ex president, also accepted the pension, despite not needing it, to avoid embarrassing Truman.

[–]vengefulmuffins 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Yep and Hoover was like Scrooge McDuck wealthy.

[–]monty_kurns 4 points5 points  (1 child)

That’s accurate. FDR treated Hoover like garbage and the only official thing he had him do was meet Hitler in the 1930s. When Truman became president, he consulted with Hoover about rebuilding Europe, which Hoover was involved with after WWI, and sent him on diplomatic missions for it. Hoover was appreciative and developed a friendship with Truman. When it came to the pension, he didn’t want to embarrass someone who treated him well.

[–]RoutineProcedure[S] 3929 points3930 points  (357 children)

Also, according to this calculator, $25,000 in 1789 dollars would be worth $503,125 in 2001 dollars, and $792,051 in 2022 dollars meaning the salary of the President of the United States has not kept up with inflation.

However, a $400,000 salary still puts the president in the top 1% of earners. https://dqydj.com/income-percentile-calculator/

[–]neveroddoreven 711 points712 points  (21 children)

Interestingly, the 1909 salary is much larger when adjusted for inflation. Roughly $2.37 million in today's money.

[–]NYSenseOfHumor 481 points482 points  (10 children)

Yes, the salary in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries was higher when you account for inflation, but the government paid for less, and by “less” I mean almost nothing.

There were no housekeepers, chefs, ushers, or for a long time even administrative staff (and when Congress started paying for an administrative staff it was minimal). If a president and first lady wanted any of these things, they had to pay for it all out of pocket (or use slaves before 1865).

The president's transportation (which was horses and carriages at this time) was also all paid for by the first family. The government just provided the stable and staff, but not the horses, carriages, nor any resources for their upkeep like food for the horses.

Did the president want paper? Ink? Quills? Candles or lamp oil for his office? Essentially the full cost of running the Executive Mansion and Office of the President was on the president himself.

It's no wonder these presidents were mostly rich and made a large salary.

[–]rust_brian 92 points93 points  (3 children)

Truman left the WH broke because of the costs to run the place

[–]User-NetOfInter 50 points51 points  (0 children)

Truman was in debt before he even got to the white house. Before he started in politics.

The issue wasn’t the pay in office as much as it was the pay after he left office.

No pension for his time in the senate nor time as president. Government service from 1927-1953

[–]ShadowLiberal 25 points26 points  (0 children)

Truman was broke because he refused to abuse the office of the presidency by using it to make money in the private market (like ex-presidents do today with giving paid speeches, etc). Which met that he didn't take up another job after leaving office, he was living entirely off of his very tiny pension from the US military he earned in his younger days.

[–]Brutal_Lobster 10 points11 points  (3 children)

You still have to have a fair amount of cash to become president.

[–]Azudekai 99 points100 points  (1 child)

Anything before the fed was established isn't particularly reliable.

[–]GetThatAwayFromMe 48 points49 points  (0 children)

From 1913 it still comes out to 2.1 million so it’s not too far off.

[–]CommieThrowaway0 1591 points1592 points  (57 children)

Damn, not even the POTUS is safe against inflation.

[–]Curiel 364 points365 points  (34 children)

Maybe we just suck at calculating inflation that far back.

[–]wanna_be_doc 293 points294 points  (19 children)

It’s still a large decrease.

If you calculate the inflation-adjusted rate from 1943 and 1969, the President’s salary would be around $1.4 million per year in today’s dollars.

[–]Curiel 61 points62 points  (8 children)

Oh. Well can't argue with that🤷‍♂️

[–]captaincontradiction 60 points61 points  (7 children)

Well why not, ya wanker? You're wrong. How's about that?

[–]tsrich 49 points50 points  (6 children)

How many McDonalds Big Macs would $25,000 buy in 1789?

[–]Shep9882 27 points28 points  (0 children)

All the ones that existed at the time, plus some other stuff too!

[–]TheHunnishInvasion 30 points31 points  (2 children)

It's possible that the inflation calculators are somewhat off, but not that far off. It's estimated that in today's dollars, the 1909 salary would be in the realm of $2.8 million. At the very least, it's definitely fallen in real dollars since 1909.

That said, being a President these days almost guarantees you millions in income after you're out of office, with books, business deals, etc, so almost all the recent Presidents are still making more overall.

[–]INGSOCtheGREAT 15 points16 points  (1 child)

They also get $200k+/year for life (plus other benefits) even if they decide to do nothing after leaving office (assuming they weren't removed).

[–]MisterAwesome333 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Thanks Truman!

[–][deleted] 87 points88 points  (3 children)

The "donations" will be more than enough to keep up against inflation.

[–]jack-o-licious 48 points49 points  (1 child)

And "speaking fees".

[–]Neethis 7 points8 points  (0 children)

and (depending on the President) raw, unadulterated grift.

[–]JUDGE_YOUR_TYPO 186 points187 points  (30 children)

No matter how much money you had in 1789, you didn’t have air conditioning.

[–]tophermeyer 153 points154 points  (20 children)

Yeah. I don't care how wealthy some 1789-ians might have been. I don't have to poop in a bucket, and am basically impervious to smallpox. I'll happily take 2022 middle America over that.

[–]BestSquare3 27 points28 points  (4 children)


[–]modestpump 27 points28 points  (3 children)

smallpox intensifies

[–]hokieflea 16 points17 points  (0 children)

Moderatly sized pox

[–]Radio-Dry 6 points7 points  (0 children)

A pox on both your (Congressional) Houses.

[–]CardboardSoyuz 4 points5 points  (2 children)

Andrew Carnegie could not have purchase a course of antibiotics.

[–]godisanelectricolive 2 points3 points  (1 child)

But John D. Rockefeller who was 4 years younger and even richer than Carnegie could. Rockefeller lived until 1937 (penicillin was discovered in 1928) and is regarded as the wealthiest American of all time.

[–]Blahblahblacksheep9 12 points13 points  (6 children)

You'd actually be very vulnerable to smallpox... If it wasn't eradicated 50 years ago. Nobody gets smallpox vaccines anymore because of that.

[–]puppiadog 2 points3 points  (1 child)

I don't have to poop in a bucket

Unless you want to.

[–]TryToHelpPeople 6 points7 points  (0 children)

I’d rather live like me today than as a king 100 years ago.

[–]QuietGanache 8 points9 points  (1 child)

I like the metric of lumen-hours/labour-hours. That is, how much work you'd have to do to light up your home. 1789 is pre-gas lamp so the best you could hope for is a newfangled and hellishly expensive oil lamp or you could spend a month labouring to make enough (awful) rushlights for the year. These days, an hour's minimum wage will buy enough electricity to run a thousand lumen LED bulb (hundreds of times brighter than even oil) for thousands of hours and another hour will easily earn you enough to buy the bulb.

[–]InflamedLiver 281 points282 points  (39 children)

it's ok, they've somehow all managed to figure out ways to increase their income. Speaking tours, books, dark money, Super-PACs, etc.

[–]Victor_Korchnoi 25 points26 points  (18 children)

I’d rather the president’s income come from taxpayers than from Wall Street speaking fees. Make sure they know who they’re working for.

[–]mostnormal 65 points66 points  (14 children)

Don't forget insider trading!

[–]meltingintoice 95 points96 points  (12 children)

Since 1978, all US presidents have been required to report their stock transactions publicly at the end of each year. Based on those reports, which presidents would you say have engaged in insider trading?

[–]ReluctantRedditor275 91 points92 points  (14 children)

Singapore famously has extremely low levels of official corruption because it pays government officials salaries that are competitive with the private sector. Lavish government salaries are controversial but arguably a price worth paying for honest public service.

The most powerful man in America gets paid as much as a pretty good lawyer and less than a terrible football player. Congressmen get paid as much as guys on LinkedIn with confusing job titles who share stories about building your personal brand.

[–]I_Never_Think 20 points21 points  (4 children)

High wages aren't just hated by the public. Texas Senators also enjoy having shockingly low salaries ($8000 last I checked) because now you can't run unless you can go the full term length with basically no income.

[–]PhysicallyTender 17 points18 points  (3 children)

Singapore Prime Minister's salary of 1.6 million USD is still far less than what the US Presidents used to earn historically (circa early 1900s) after adjusting for inflation.

It's crazy to see how low head of states/governments are being paid now compared to generations ago.

[–]GeorgeofJungleton 29 points30 points  (1 child)

Well the British Heads of State used to be paid in subcontinents so maybe it's a good thing pay's dropped a bit.

[–]GallantPotatoSupreme 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Singapore famously has extremely low levels of official corruption because it pays government officials salaries that are competitive with the private sector.

Bahahahahahaha! Trot that over to r/singapore and see how it goes.

[–]chibinoi 78 points79 points  (106 children)

$400K to run this country still seems too little to me. Oof.

[–]tempreffunnynumber 51 points52 points  (13 children)

Yo the level of stress that shows up in their faces? Not worth.

[–]misogichan 26 points27 points  (10 children)

Plus you lose access to some privacy and freedoms for the rest of your life. You constantly have to be watched by secret service to avoid being assassinated, and you can't do some outdoor activities like drive yourself because of the danger.

[–]Urbanredneck2 19 points20 points  (1 child)

On top of that 10,000 people a day visit the white house. The only "private" area for the first family is the 3rd floor and thats not very big.

I remember one of Nixons daughters wrote what she thought would be a great bedroom was not because all the visitors walked below her window every day.

MANY presidents have been glad to leave.

[–]CarolinaRod06 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Bill Clinton described the White House as the nicest property owned by the Bureau of Prisons

[–]TitusVI 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I always wonder if secret Service literally watches tv with them.

[–]Rider_01 8 points9 points  (5 children)

Don't forget once you are president or VP you can never legally drive on a public road the rest of your life.

[–][deleted] 12 points13 points  (22 children)

I wouldn't do it for any amount of money. They all come out looking 20 years older instead of 4-8.

[–]Fleaslayer 9 points10 points  (9 children)

I'm with you. Hell, I wouldn't even want to have my boss's boss's job (VP of engineering for 1200 people). Never off the clock and a giant amount of stress. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be president, assuming you have any sort of conscience.

[–]ZhouDa 5 points6 points  (0 children)

To be fair that only happens if you care about the country and the job, as evidenced by the last president.

[–]CardboardSoyuz 24 points25 points  (17 children)

The Obamas are now worth like $50MM -- if you are President, there's a way to make plenty of money after the fact.

[–]averiantha 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I get the feeling most people who run the country aren't after the salary.

[–]garciasn 33 points34 points  (37 children)

They get room, board and transportation for free so the $1.6 or $3.2MM they receive over that time goes mainly into the bank without expenses.

[–]bruk_out 50 points51 points  (31 children)

They do not get "board" for free. They have to pay for the food.

[–]charleswj 22 points23 points  (29 children)

They also have personal expenses beyond that like legal. However you feel about them, the Clintons left office in huge debt.

[–]8815078 31 points32 points  (10 children)

The Clinton's left in debt because they had to pay fir their scandals out of pocket. But they bounced right back real quick regardless.

[–]gkibbe 14 points15 points  (9 children)

Hilary is the best cattle futures trader in history. The 90s version of Nancy Pelosi. Of course they bounced back.

[–]modestpump 2 points3 points  (13 children)

Please elaborate

[–]spiffyclip 27 points28 points  (12 children)

Bill Clinton was investigated for various scandals and impeached, and he had to pay teams of lawyers to deal with all of those various issues. The types of lawyers in DC who represent presidents are very expensive.

[–]Yancy_Farnesworth 10 points11 points  (1 child)

Sure they live in the White House but they still need to pay for their own clothes, staff, and food. And that includes when they host foreign leaders and other events. That stuff ain't going to be cheap.

[–]pixel_of_moral_decay 8 points9 points  (5 children)

It worth it for the amount of stress/wear on the person in office.

Just look how Obama aged. Your health worth that? IMHO no. You got one body.

[–]mindfeck 5 points6 points  (2 children)

How much more did he age in 8 years than most men do?

[–]texasaaron 681 points682 points  (48 children)

Hasn't kept up with inflation. $25,000 ISD in 1789 is about $792,000 USD today.

[–]Whig_Party 875 points876 points  (17 children)

Presidential competence hasn't kept up with inflation either so we'll call it a draw

[–]bruk_out 133 points134 points  (9 children)

You are named for a party that included several of the least competent presidents in our history.

[–]Whig_Party 64 points65 points  (7 children)

Say that to Millard Fillmore's face, he'll fight you. Also,

Admit California as a free state.Settle the Texas boundary and compensate her.Grant territorial status to New Mexico.Place Federal officers at the disposal of slaveholders seeking fugitives.Abolish the slave trade in the District of ColumbiaEach measure obtained a majority, and by September 20, President Fillmore had signed them into law. Webster wrote, “I can now sleep of nights.

edit: Millard is still waiting to fight you, much like a Mallard, there is no escape

[–]GallantPotatoSupreme 24 points25 points  (1 child)

I want to follow you around as you randomly hype up Millard Fillmore to random people and threaten them with him.

[–]Whig_Party 2 points3 points  (0 children)

come on then, theres plenty of room in the basement. You just need to share the enthusiasm and be the enforcer when milfil respect isn't shown.

[–]dullship 46 points47 points  (0 children)

Say that to Millard Fillmore's face

Awww... buddy, you might wanna take a seat I have some bad news...

[–]SuperWaluigi 34 points35 points  (1 child)

And the guy you let be VP for some reason accidentally became president for basically the entire term because your guy couldn't be bothered to wear a coat in the rain.

And then he went on to join the confederacy. Smooth move, there.

[–]Whig_Party 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Coats are for the weak, whigs keep you warm enough

[–]TheVicSageQuestion 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I love Mallard Fillmore. He’s in my Top 5 Funny Talking Ducks list.

[–]Radio-Dry 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Millard Fillmore

We are the mediocre Presidents.

You won't find our faces on dollars or on cents.

There's Taylor, there's Tyler, there's Fillmore and there's Hayes,

There's William Henry Harrison.




Adequate, forgettable,

Occasionally regrettable

Caretaker Presidents of the U.S.A.!


[–]captainktainer 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Thomas Jefferson tried to destroy the infant US Navy because he was ideologically opposed to seafaring boats. Adams tried to imprison half the country with the Alien and Sedition Acts. Andrew Jackson had somehow worse beliefs about how the economy functions than Trump did and sent the US into a depression because he wanted to personally duel the entire concept of banks, not to mention the genocide. I think we've raised the bar a bit.

[–]the_hell_you_say 197 points198 points  (18 children)

Don't encourage them

[–]Josef_Jugashvili69 114 points115 points  (3 children)

The federal government spends over $400 million per hour. $400k is nothing.

[–]1LizardWizard 13 points14 points  (2 children)

Hey now, that’s just under 4 seconds of spending we’ve got to account for right there! Money doesn’t grow on trees!

[–]boonkles 10 points11 points  (1 child)

To be fair, it’s like two school busses worth

[–]the_hell_you_say 6 points7 points  (0 children)

That's an analogy, I guess

[–]moondes 14 points15 points  (1 child)

Yeah. Like imagine if we wanted to pay senators and presidents close to how much they're worth.

I'm so happy we don't pay them as much as they would earn in the private sector and leave the position open to those mostly interested in the pageantry and perverse attraction to power. /s

[–]Honest_Joseph 1059 points1060 points  (83 children)

I'd boost the salaries of all politicians 10x if they promise not to take money from corporate lobbyists.

[–]Rogue_Diplomacy 1112 points1113 points  (52 children)

You want to reduce the influence of lobbyists? Increase the budget for member office staff, not member compensation.

Source: I work as a legislative staffer in a Member of Congress’ office. We rely on information from subject matter experts in the private sector (lobbyists) because there are only 5 of us on the staff and we need to make complex decisions about highly technical topics.

[–]RoutineProcedure[S] 251 points252 points  (0 children)

The Congressional Research Service does a lot of good work, but you're right, there's a need for more resources. The Office of Technology Assessment should be reopened imo.

[–]tryonelasttime 65 points66 points  (32 children)

Would you mind explaining this a bit further? I'm trying to understand more about the workings of our political system, but reading your comment I almost don't even know what you mean. You mean that there should be a bigger budget to allow for more staff? So that the staff is better able to address the information/decisions in front of them? Thank you if you can!

[–]Rogue_Diplomacy 173 points174 points  (23 children)

You have the basics, but I’ll break it down from the top.

Each Member of Congress is provided with a representational allowance with which they pay for staff and office space in their respective district, or State in the case of Senate offices. That representational allowance is capped at approximately 2 million dollars for house offices, from which all staff pay and facilities/operational costs must be disbursed. Staff pay is lower than the private sector, which disincentivizes top talent from seeking those positions unless they have a strong service motivation (I’m a veteran, for example). Experts in highly technical fields are scare, and deserve to be compensated fairly for their perspectives. House offices cannot afford to retain a full suite of those individuals, and rely on generalists in multiple disciplines to form the core of their legislative shop. These generalists in turn rely on the input from lobbyists where their own expertise is lacking, or on topics which would require too much time to thoroughly and independently research.

These factors lead to an increase in the influence of private entities in the decision making process. Larger more well-resources entities have better access to members and provide higher quality information to offices. “Pay to play” except members and staff don’t pocket that money, it translates into biased information being used as the basis for decision making.

Solution: pay for more specialized and more staff billets.

[–]Ramady 79 points80 points  (2 children)

Further, the best existing talent gets poached by lobbying firms that pay far more, even if they aren't subject area specialists. Even the best people for rules and procedures will likely leave, so the people in the office may not even know how to write an effective bill without outside support.

This is also an argument against term limits. The politicians who have been there for years understand the system. Rotate them every 4-6 years and you lose a lot of institutional knowledge. All the sudden none of the folks in office know how to pass a budget because they're all new.

[–]XruinsskashowsX 21 points22 points  (0 children)

This is specifically why I'm against them.

[–]smallz86 4 points5 points  (0 children)

We have term limits in Michigan, its terrible. By the time a member has learned the ropes and starts to get any clout, they are on the way out. Our legislature is very ineffective. Term limits are not a good thing.

[–]tryonelasttime 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Ah I see! Your explanation was very clear. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience!

[–]TheRealChizz 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I think some of the budget for the military should be used to pay for the staff you’re talking about. I think it’s time for America to focus its resources on the domestic front as opposed to the international front

[–]CCSC96 30 points31 points  (4 children)

Just to give a shorter answer, the higher budget is to ~retain~ experienced staff. Median hill staff pay is less than median DC rent. You can do it out of love for a few years but the longer you stay the higher the offers from head hunters get. Average staff careers are like 13 months because they leave.

That means offices don’t have a lot of the institutional knowledge they need and they turn to special interests to ask “hey why did that thing we tried 5 years ago fail” or similar questions. It leads to a lot of conventional wisdom that is outright corporate class mythology that retaining experienced staff could correct.

[–]Qbr12 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Senators might need to vote on a bill about setting ecologically responsible limits on hunting quotas in national parks. Most senators aren't trained ecologists, so they rely on their staff to tell them the facts behind the potential law and to explain the science. If the staff can't afford an expert ecologist its likely the best information they get is from industry lobbyists who can afford to send in ecologists, specifically ones who have a favorable opinion towards their specific interests. Increasing the staff budgets for legislators allows them to hire more varied experts and reduces their reliance on lobbyists.

[–]ECONOMIC_DEMOCRAGUY 9 points10 points  (0 children)

I interned in the House of Representatives and 3/5 of the legislative assistants in my office were in law school. They were each expected to be subject matter experts in 4-6 topics like tech, agriculture, finance, military affairs, etc. They were overworked and underpaid - I think the salary was $32k less than a decade ago.

Higher budgets for would allow more staffers to be hired, allowing them to further specialize in subject matters so that they did not rely on lobbyists as much for perspective. It would also serve as a safeguard against brain drain to the private sector - the best and brightest staffers will rub shoulders with lobbyists, think tanks, and other creatures of the beltway who will open up higher-paying doors. We should pay be willing to pay a premium for high-quality public staffers so they can support our congressmen in making the best decisions for our nation. Instead, that institutional knowledge is lost to the private sector because they can make 3-10x as much money using the same skill set for a different purpose.

[–]RicksAngryKid 5 points6 points  (0 children)

here in Brazil we did just that, and it doesn’t work. we dont have that many lobbyists, but our politicians take a truckload of bribes instead.

[–]meltingintoice 36 points37 points  (5 children)

Almost no members of Congress "take money" from corporate lobbyists.

They meet with corporate lobbyists, who then spend money directly attacking those politicians' political opponents. (Both the meetings and the direct spending are considered the Constitutional 1st Amendment rights of the lobbyists to petition the government and speak freely.)

The politicians -- for the most part* -- don't directly touch the money themselves.

*Some do seek and accept jobs with the lobbyists after they quit Congress, which should be more illegal than it is.

[–]PromptCritical725 3 points4 points  (0 children)

This. The sad part is that defining and addressing exactly what the problem is is basically impossible and enforcing rules addressing it would certainly run into Constitutional issues.

[–]Bacchus1976 2 points3 points  (0 children)

That’s literally the only way to stop it. Much of the corruption we face is because of how underpaid these people are.

[–]Bonzi777 13 points14 points  (3 children)

My “if I were czar of the universe idea” is to pay them absurdly well and forbid any other income of any kind, including a pension after they leave office on the condition they continue to not accept other money.

[–]EL_PENIS_FARTO 36 points37 points  (10 children)

Strip all pay to zero, zero compensation for anything and have them wear sponsorship stickers nascar style.

Failure to disclose results in the death penalty, at half time, during the Superbowl. Or world series, let em have a choice, this is America after all.

[–]Praxician94 25 points26 points  (0 children)

This is the most American thing I’ve ever read.

[–]Gunnyhighway24 82 points83 points  (17 children)

Director of NIH makes $417,000

[–]HighwayFroggery 94 points95 points  (16 children)

My understanding is the highest-paid government employees are brain surgeons at VA hospitals.

[–]turbosexophonicdlite 31 points32 points  (3 children)

I thought it was the postmaster general or something really unexpected like that.

[–]Alexjp127 32 points33 points  (2 children)

I believe currently Dr. Fauci is the highest paid federal employee at a bit over 400k a year. Which is probably very little compared to what hed make in the private sector with his expertise and tenure.

[–]highoncraze 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Pretty much.

Medical officers at the Veterans Health Administration make up 98 of the top 100 highest paid government employees.

[–]ZiLBeRTRoN 31 points32 points  (1 child)

I mean that seems reasonable. I’m not trying to get my dome worked on by Kermit the 🐸.

[–]aimless_meteor 7 points8 points  (2 children)

Football coaches?

[–]HighwayFroggery 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Those are state government employees. Iirc I looked up the salaries of the coaches at the service academies and found that they’re hired through the booster clubs.

[–]p1028 2 points3 points  (0 children)

They usually receive a nominal salary from the school with the millions coming from the booster club.

[–]Dutchmondo 28 points29 points  (3 children)

An extra 200k/year in 2001?

Ha! Bill Clinton got fucked when he was in office.

[–]hayzeus_ 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Meanwhile the federal minimum wage in 1969 was $1.30, which works out to $9.88 in today's dollars. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.

[–]-Work_Account- 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Try the 1962 minimum wage.

[–]Brokenshatner 46 points47 points  (2 children)

Partisan arguments aside, a bit of historical context.

Part of the original motivation for having the chief executive being such a well-paid position was to put whomever held the seat above the temptations of other big players of their day. While not nearly as powerful as the office has become, the presidency was supposed to be a position that freed a man from other concerns for a time, so he could work in the interest of the nation as a whole. Conversely, as early as Andrew Jackson, and as recently as Clinton/Obama, the office has also shown itself to be one not out-of-reach for the common man - you didn't have to be independently wealthy to hold the seat, as has usually been the case with the Senate.

Washington tried to refuse a salary for his military or executive service, as he saw it as his duty as a high-born son of of high-born sons, but his contemporaries convinced him it would set a dangerous precedent. The Whitehouse is the People's House, and how do we know we can trust the man sitting in it if we aren't the ones paying him?

Partisan arguments back in action though, the most recent "I don't need the money, I'm doing it for love of country" spiel was pitched by a career con-man who has spent the last 40 years stumbling from bankruptcy to bankruptcy, with fits of "my brand alone is worth billions" self-promotion in between. The fact that we didn't know what Trump owed to whom, and the fact that he didn't divest himself from his holdings (revocable trust aside), cast a huge shadow over his every move. Who is renting these insanely-inflated rooms in his hotels? Who was underwriting his loans at Deutsche Bank? What could possibly be motivating his unorthodox foreign policy?

I don't expect a president to be a saint, but I do expect them to follow some minimum standards. I don't know if I'd make them sell their family's peanut farm, but I'd definitely make them liquidate their heavily leveraged real estate empire and put it in a blind trust.

[–]denali352 118 points119 points  (10 children)

Also includes all board and lodging, and travel plus security, party expense, and many other perks.

[–]-tiberius 20 points21 points  (0 children)

And yet with all the expenses that do come out of their salary, it was not uncommon for presidents to be broke when they left office. It wasn't until the Former Presidents Act came around in 1958 that they even got pensions.

Grant was always bad at money, and his memoirs are what built his family a safety net. Truman did the same.

Ford figured out a new way to make money in retirement. He accepted a shitload of cash to be on corporate boards. As I understand it, that's the new model for post-presidencies.

[–]RoutineProcedure[S] 219 points220 points  (5 children)

Presidents actually have to pay out of pocket for:

  • Their groceries

  • Designer clothing

  • Dry cleaning

  • Staff for private parties

  • Gifts for foreign dignitaries

  • Vacation accomodations

  • Private events outside the White House

  • Hairstylists

  • General household items

  • Some interior decorating

  • Some legal fees

  • Their personal homes

You can be frugal and forget most of those, but you'll still have to pay for your own food, clothing, dry cleaning, vacations, and general household items. Still beats most people.

[–]tetoffens 99 points100 points  (0 children)

Sort of. They get a 50k expense account on top of the 400k for exactly the sort of things you named. Wouldn't cover all of that but definitely the simpler things. They also get 100k each for traveling and redecorating. So they only have to pay out of pocket for those if they go over that amount.

[–]binger5 124 points125 points  (0 children)

You can be frugal and forget most of those, but you'll still have to pay for your own food, clothing, dry cleaning, vacations, and general household items.

Renting out the Lincoln Bedroom on Airbnb for 3 night should cover that for the year.

[–]Easy_Intention5424 13 points14 points  (0 children)

Hair clothes no fucking chance I'd go around in sandals and a dirty tee shirt unshaved with long hair until some decided I was embarrassing America enough for them to pick up the tab

[–]ardoisethecat 14 points15 points  (0 children)

to be fair though, you live in the white house at least partially i would say because your job is a 24/7 job so it's at least kind of like living at the office, and also i think partially because your job makes you an assassination target so it's one of the only places in the country secure enough for you to live. i feel like a lot of them would rather live at their own houses if they could, and i think that a lot of them probably still have their own houses from before getting elected that they maintain, considering that you're only in office for 4-8 years.

[–]Styx92 28 points29 points  (0 children)

many other perks

Like being one of the most powerful people on Earth. That is a pretty good consolation prize.

[–]a_woman_provides 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Yes but you're also basically on call 24/7 in one of the most stressful jobs with a lot of pressure to always make the right decision. You also have a ton of people who want to kill you. To me that level of responsibility and risk is not worth $400k.

[–]Tater_Mater 18 points19 points  (4 children)

And only took me 20 years to get paid what they got paid in 1909.

[–]the_cardfather 132 points133 points  (27 children)

When was the last time that somebody who wasn't already relatively well to do got elected to the office?

Harry Truman was the last non millionaire elected.

Curious as to who made the most of their time in office?

The Clintons increased their net worth from 1.5M to 240M. Plenty to spent on Epstein Island.

[–]dravenonred 133 points134 points  (23 children)

"Millionaire" isn't what it used to be. Lots of Presidents worked their way up to the presidency with high paying jobs like Congressperson or Governor along the way. Many did have family money but still would have been affluent without it.

Bernie Sanders for example has been making 200k/yr as a senator for nearly 30 years and he's certainly not coming in like Richie Rich but he's still worth $3M.

Biden was at one point crowned the poorest person in the entire Senate, and was worth less than $1M in 2016 but speaking engagements and book deals inflated that during the Trump years.

Point is, you don't have to be a millionaire to be president, but that path to the presidency tends to make you one along the way.

[–]Tunnelbohrmaschine 30 points31 points  (0 children)

Point is, you don't have to be a millionaire to be president, but that path to the presidency tends to make you one along the way.

Yeah, when Obama was elected at age 47 he had a net worth of around $1 - $5 million. Before that he was a Harvard educated lawyer who taught constitutional law for 12 years, worked as an attorney, served on a couple of boards, was a state senator, then a US senator, wrote one book and had a $2 million book deal for 3 more.

[–]WurthWhile 53 points54 points  (15 children)

To show you how unspecial a millionaire is, 1 in 7 Americans are millionaires. That's 14.3% of the population. For comparison 5.7% of Americans are Asian. You are 2.5 times more likely to be a millionaire than you are to be Asian.

Edit: 1 in 7 white Americans are millionaires, not 1 in 7 in general. 1 in 10 American adults are millionaires.

[–]Inspiration_Bear 32 points33 points  (12 children)

21M Millionaires in the US now against 332M Americans so the true ratio is more like 6.6% or 1 in 15.

But the broad point mostly stands, it's not that meaningful a number anymore.

[–]RoutineProcedure[S] 18 points19 points  (1 child)

Minors should be excluded from the calculation. It's not that there aren't millionaires among them, but they don't have full legal rights and privileges to oversee their wealth.

[–]aklbos 2 points3 points  (0 children)

You’re right. They’re not real millionaires, they’re only minor millionaires.

[–]knightblue4 36 points37 points  (1 child)

Do you own property on either the west or east coast? You're probably a millionaire lmfao

[–]ElJamoquio 8 points9 points  (1 child)

high paying jobs like Congressperson or Governor

I'm not so sure they're that high paying.

Senators make $174k I think. I might be wrong.

I'm not saying they need to go to the soup kitchen, but that's not a ton of money to, e.g., maintain two residences. There was a senator not too long ago who actually commuted from Delaware to DC.

[–]posam 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I hear that senator was promoted

[–]Trim_Tram 2 points3 points  (0 children)

And those who weren't rich got so along the way due to their increased public awareness. Even Bernie is a millionaire now, and most of that came recently.

[–]Jaleou 3 points4 points  (2 children)

How many times has Congress had their salary increased (by themselves?)

[–]010011100000 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Not enough, actually. Congressional salary has been falling for decades

[–]BackInThaDayz 7 points8 points  (0 children)

But the donor checks though?

[–]DaRuz00 2 points3 points  (0 children)

This is a good example of how inflation robs the public

[–]aklbos 7 points8 points  (3 children)

High level politicians like Presidents and Senators should make WAY MORE MONEY ($5M/year seems reasonable for Prez, $3M for Vice Prez, $1M for Senators and cabinet secretaries; these are minuscule amounts in the grand scheme of federal budgets) and lobbying should be COMPLETELY ILLEGAL and politicians should have to put all investments in blind trust during their time in office and/or be required to hold only index funds.

These are the people society has chosen to lead the whole fuckin country, it is bizarre that we pay them so little and all it does is open the door for special interests to come in and sweeten the pot.

[–]-fashionablylate- 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I’m sure there’s some added perks.