RANDALL J. DICKS 1951-1999

The Expense of Presidencies

By Randall Dicks

In another document, we have surveyed the expense of various monarchies. Against that information, we provide the following survey of presidential expenses:

Public funds (1996):
Endowment and household expenses 6,278,000 FF
Administrative, secretarial, library, and office expenses 8,247,000 FF
Maintenance of official residences 6,200,000 FF
Official expenses and travel 3,659,000 FF
Maintenance of fleet of automobiles 2,075,000 FF

Total 20,259,000 FF
This total does not include the expenses of the Élysée Palace, the Hôtel Marigny, the Pavillon de Marly-le-Roi (used for presidential hunting), the Château de Rambouillet, the manor of Souzy-la-Briche, the Fort de Brégançon (vacation residence), and possibly other properties used by the president or presidency.

Former Presidents receive a pension, as well as a stipend as members of the Constitutional Council (the late former President Mitterand received 28,000 FF per month as former President, plus 29,000 per month as counselor), and receive staff lodging, secretariat, automobile, and security.

Source: Bertrand de Lacombe, Press and Information Service, French Embassy, Washington, D.C.


Office of the President, 1996 61,000,000 Austrian Schillings
(US $5,337,500)

(Source: Martin Eichtinger, Austrian Press and Informatyion Service, Washington, D.,C., letter of January 27th, 1997.)


In Irish pounds, for the year 1996
Office of the Secretary to the President:
salaries and wages, £376,000
Travel and subsistence, £156,000
Incidentals, £15,000
Postal and telecommunications services, £62,000
Office machinery and supplies, £41,000
Centenarians' Bounty £35,000

Other departments (the Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Public Works, Garda Síochána, Defence, Foreign Affairs) are allocated funds which are linked to the President's Office, totaling... £1,715,000
Total £2,400,000

(Source: Cultural Attaché, Embassy of Ireland, Washington, D.C.)

Fiscal Year 1996
Allowance for the President of the Republic 351,476,000 Lire
(Subject to annual reevaluation; exempt from tax and insurance contributions.)
Endowment allocated to the President of the Republic 4,392,631,000 Lire
Expenses of the Presidency of the Republic 202,231,975,000 Lire
(A change is planned in the historic division of the latter two sums, which will combine them into one amount, to cover the direct operating and support expenses of the Presidency (salaries and pensions of support personnel, acquisition of goods and services, fiscal responsibilities, insurance, etc.).)

Total 206,976,082,000 Lire

Source: Press and Information Service, Italian Embassy, Washington, D.C. (letter of October 10, 1996). With thanks to Dr. Donald Marinelli for assistance in translation.

Public funds:
Salary of the President $200,000
Expense allowance, non-taxable $50,000
"For necessary expenses for the White House" $40,193,000
"For the care, maintenance, repair... of the Executive Residence at the White House and official entertainment expenses of the President" $7,827,000
"For necessary expenses to enable the Vice President to provide assistance to the President in connection with specially assigned functions" $3,280,000
Official residence of the Vice President and official entertainment $324,000
(Expenses do not include the costs of travel aboard Air Force One, Air Force Two, and United States Marine Corps helicopters, as these figures apparently are not usually broken down within the respective military budgets.)

The total for this section, representing only those sums specified in the Executive Offices Appropriations Act, 1997, is $51874,000; but the expenses continue.

Total, Executive Office of the President and funds appropriated to the President,
Fiscal Year 1997 $310,441,000

Security: The Secret Service is reluctant to provide figures. on the theory that telling how much is spent on security might reveal how much security there is. The Washington Post estimated the amount in 1992 at $140 million for protection for the President, Vice President, and their immediate families (Washington Post, December 3, 1992).

Pensions and Expense Allowances to Former Presidents and Widow of Former President
Including pension ($148,400 per year), staff salaries, staff benefits, travel, office rental, telephone, postage, printing, supplies and materials, equipment, and other services
Hon. Gerald R. Ford $446,330
Hon. Jimmy Carter $442,474
Hon. Ronald Reagan $727,566
Hon. George Bush $574,406

In addition, Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, the only surviving presidential widow, receives an annuity of $20,000.

Former Presidents and widows of former Presidents also receive certain medical benefits and free postage.

These figures do not include the costs of Secret Service protection for former Presidents and their families, as separate figures for this expense are not available for security reasons. (Fiscal year 1995; Fiscal Year 1996 amounts approximately the same.)

Air Force One: Costs of air travel by the President (provided by the 89th Airlift Wing of the United States Air Force) are difficult to determine; this is in part intentional, for security reasons, and in part because costs are spread over a number of agencies (Departments of State and Defense, Air Force, General Services Administration). Two new Boeing 747-200B's were purchased for presidential use in 1990, at a cost of approximately $650 million, plus $140 for a "maintenance and support complex" (an enormous hangar) at Andrews Air Force Base. Columnist Hugh Sidey wrote at the time, ""Americans are spending the better part of a billion dollars to get their President airborne, and then it will cost around $6,000 an hour to keep him aloft. That's more than the gross national product of Greenland." (Time, January 15, 1990.) In 1992, the Washington Post reported an estimated annual travel cost of $185 million (Washington Post, October 19, 1992).

Other public funds:

1996 Presidential Election Campaign
Clinton-Gore campaign $61,820,000
Dole-Kemp campaign $61,820,000
Federal primary matching funds (among 11 candidates) $50,863,260
federal funds for Democratic and Republican nominating conventions $24,728,000
Preliminary total $199,231,260

In addition, $12 million of the estimated $41 million cost of the inauguration festivities in January, 1997 come from public funds.

Sources: Executive Offices Appropriations Act, 1997; Former Presidents Act, as amended; Federal Election Commission press releases, April 29, August 15 and 30, 1996. It has been estimated that the total costs of the 1996 Presidential Election Campaign, from all sources, will reach $800,000,000. Special thanks to the office of U.S. Representative Frank R. Mascara.

The White House and embassies or other government offices of Algeria, Austria, Brazil, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, India, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, and Turkey failed to respond to our repeated requests for information, over a period of some months. We will attempt to publish additional expense information, on both republics and monarchies, as it becomes available.

And finally, to put the costs of both monarchies and republics in an entirely different perspective: the Fox television network has paid $1,580,000,000 for the right to broadcast four seasons of National Football Conference games, including one Super Bowl. The annual budgets of the monarchies of Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, Spain, and Sweden would each pay for four minutes or less of television advertising during the Super Bowl XXXI football game.

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