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Who pays Obama?
November 17, 2008 4:28 PM   Subscribe

Who is paying Obama for the next two months?

Obama has just quit his day job as junior senator for Illinois and won't start his new job for a couple of months. Does that he mean that he is having to live on his savings or can he use his campaign funds to pay the phone bill? What, if anything, do presidents-elect get from the taxpayer? Who pays his Chicago-DC travel, for example, in this interim period (and that of his wife and daughters)?
posted by TheRaven to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Well, his transition team is expected to cost about $12 Million according to this story.

As for who pays that, it looks like about half comes from congress and half from small donors:
As is customary, Congress has appropriated $5.2 million in transition funds, and the rest will come from small donors, he said. The maximum individual donation is $5,000 and all donors will be disclosed on a monthly basis.
I'm not sure if Obama takes a salary out of that himself or not. I doubt he has to worry too much about paying the phone bill though.
posted by willnot at 4:36 PM on November 17, 2008


Regarding travels, I was wondering the same thing about former officials and candidates who are under protection of the secret service. Do they have to pay for travel expenses even though the secret service arranges everything? If not, that would take care of all of Obama's travel needs.
posted by Brennus at 4:38 PM on November 17, 2008




Note: the Wednesday evening in the link above was a Wednesday back in April.
posted by GuyZero at 4:41 PM on November 17, 2008


He's also still employed as a senator.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:22 PM on November 17, 2008


He's also still employed as a senator.

Not as of yesterday
.
posted by dersins at 5:31 PM on November 17, 2008


He's likely paying his own way until he takes the job of President. The position doesn't pay well relative to other executive positions.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:23 PM on November 17, 2008


He's likely paying his own way until he takes the job of President. The position doesn't pay well relative to other executive positions.

The president makes around $400,000 a year, but we've never had a middle-class, and certainly not a poor, president before (Obama isn't anymore, not with his massive book sales). It was my understanding that presidents usually donate their salaries to charity, though I don't know if that's true.
posted by zardoz at 6:36 PM on November 17, 2008


but we've never had a middle-class, and certainly not a poor, president before

Truman.

Truman had been a Senator for years, but had basically no family money to fall back on. When his term ended, Congress had to vote him (the first ever) pension, because otherwise the costs of being an ex-President -- Secretary to keep up with his correspondence, personal bodyguard (no Secret Service for ex-Presidents until after Kennedy was killed) etc) would have bankrupted him.
posted by anastasiav at 8:14 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Do they have to pay for travel expenses even though the secret service arranges everything?

Generally, anyone who is not on official business has to pay their own way. This sometimes trips up, for example, family members of protected persons who are on junkets international trips.

but we've never had a middle-class, and certainly not a poor, president before

First, Obama is no longer middle class, at least not since he became an author. Second, this is pretty much nonsense you're spouting. Hillary made a good living as a lawyer, but Bill was one of the lowest-paid governors in the country. Their one big investment made them no money (and brought them much grief). A fair number of Presidents have come from money (the Bushes, notably), but many others have been self-made (Reagan). Neither Ford or Nixon came from money. Johnson led a pretty hardscrabble early life although he succeeded at politics. Ike put his own brother through college before beginning his military career. And so on.
posted by dhartung at 11:30 PM on November 17, 2008


@dhartung: First, Obama is no longer middle class, at least not since he became an author. Interesting point. Is money related to class in the US? Difficult thing to categorise, but here in the UK, if a working class guy won the lottery, he's still a working class guy. It something youre born in to.

Sorry for the brief diversion.
posted by daveyt at 4:53 AM on November 18, 2008


Is money related to class in the US? Difficult thing to categorise, but here in the UK, if a working class guy won the lottery, he's still a working class guy. It something youre born in to.

"Class" in North America relates to several different socio-economic factors. Yes, money is a large part of it, but education, manners and line of work also matter. A Harvard graduate who has served in state and federal Senates, taught at the university level, and written best-selling books is not working class by any definition, though he may have grown up as working class.

A blue collar worker who won the lottery in the U.S. would no longer be considered middle or working class economically, though it might be said of him that he had kept his working class mentality or habits. Think Bruce Springsteen.

A dimension that is missing from North American class consideration is the class defining accent. Picturesque as the different accents may be, this allows for more upward mobility, because someone who grew up on welfare could acquire an education, polished manners, and a high-paying job and therefore be indistinguishable for all intents and purposes from a trust fund baby.
posted by orange swan at 5:53 AM on November 18, 2008


It was my understanding that presidents usually donate their salaries to charity, though I don't know if that's true.

According to sketchy internet sources, only Hoover and JFK have done this. (Romney made a big to-do about going this route as well, if he'd been elected.) I don't doubt that many of the others could have as well, but it's a pretty expensive lifestyle and it's unsurprising that most would accept the cash.

A dimension that is missing from North American class consideration is the class defining accent. Picturesque as the different accents may be, this allows for more upward mobility...

Not to mention that accents in North America aren't as regularly differentiated as our large geographic expanse would seem to imply: hence oddities like people thinking Sarah Palin's Alaskan accent sounds like someone from Wisconsin or how no one else in Massachusetts talks like the Kennedys.
posted by kittyprecious at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2008


hence oddities like people thinking Sarah Palin's Alaskan accent sounds like someone from Wisconsin or how no one else in Massachusetts talks like the Kennedys.

This is a digression from a digression, but: Palin speaks like someone from the Upper Midwest because her hometown was settled by people from the Upper Midwest during the Depression. Also, there definitely are people who talk like the Kennedys in Boston - I grew up with some of them. It's a very niche accent, though: pretty much confined to upper-class Irish people whose families have been in Boston for generations. And it is definitely dying out as an accent.
posted by lunasol at 7:58 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Slate had an article that noted that Obama's transition team is paid for by the government. I would assume that would include some salary for him personally.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 6:53 PM on November 18, 2008


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