On Jan. 21, President Barack Obama will take the oath of office for the second time in the last four years. His win over Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney on Nov. 6 was stunning, given the tidal wave of money GOP forces put into trying to defeat him.
No sooner had the long and hard-fought presidential race ended than another big fight, the first of many more to come from a Tea Party inspired House of Representatives who is choosing to fight instead of govern, to avoid a time-bomb of Draconian across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes that again put the nation and the world on edge.
But the worst was avoided when the White House negotiated a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell that House Republicans had little choice but to approve despite their unwillingness to do so, to put markets, minds and hearts at ease, at least until the next death defying action scene takes place, maybe as soon as mid-February when Congress needs to act to avoid defaulting on its obligations to pay bills due.
Obama, GW Bush now have Secret Service protection for life
For everyone who thinks President Obama is unworthy of his office or obtained it illegally, there is more bad news. Hidden deep in the recesses of the The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed into law on January 2, 2013, is language that modifies the Former Presidents Act, a 1958 federal law that provides several lifetime benefits to former presidents of the United States.
When President Obama signed the bill, he reinstated lifetime Secret Service protection for himself, George W. Bush and all subsequent presidents.
Under a 1994 version of the bill, presidents inaugurated after January 1, 1997, like George W. Bush and Barack Obama were granted limited post-presidential protection for ten years. Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. H. Bush and Bill Clinton were not affected by the change.
By signing the bill President Obama restored lifetime Secret Service to the nation's 43rd, 44th and subsequent presidents, their spouses and children under 16.
Other perks of being a former president include a pension—as of 2012 $199,700 that begins immediately after a president's departure from office—staff and office expenses that includes compensation for persons employed for him (or her) that do not exceed an annualized total of $150,000 for the first 30 months and $96,000 thereafter—medical treatment in military hospitals—Transition funding for the expenses of leaving office is available for seven months and covers office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition
And for Mitt Romney and his Wisconsin running mate Paul Ryan, who fooled themselves into believing they were going to win big and send Mr. Obama back to Chicago to find other work, it appears he'll earn $1.6 million over by the end of 2016.
For rank and file senators and representatives, a base salary of $174,000—for working less than 993 hours in175 days in session, producing so little work that last year's Congress has been dubbed the most unproductive session since the 1940s—appears pretty sweet when compared to a worker who works 2,080 hours to earn $53,000, the U.S. Median income.
For 26 years, from 1789 to 1815, Congressmen earned $6 per diem. In today's money, that's about $158. If last year's legislators got paid what lawmakers in the early days of the Republic did per days worked, instead of the $174,000 earned at about $84-per-hour, they would have earned, based on their session days, less than $28,000. Good work if you can get it.
For Speaker of the House John Boehner, $223,500 is his yearly salary. For Majority and Minority leaders of both chambers, $193,400 is the best they can earn today.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts has a salary equal to the Speaker's.
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