The Salary is Great ($400k/yr), but What About the Benefits?
December 19, 2014 11:38 AM   Subscribe

I highly doubt the President of the United States signs an employment agreement (Does s/he?), but is there any written documentation on the salary, benefits, expense accounts, etc for the job?

I read this Wiki article on it (scroll to the bottom), but how does the President know all the rules? This came up when my son noticed today that President Obama was headed to Hawaii for what appears to be a 2 week vacation. He asked me how many weeks off a year does he get. I get that as President you are always "on", but is there some written document that tells you how much vacation, what your health insurance benefits are, what is ok for your expense account and what you need to pay for yourself? I know that the first family pays for its own food and dry cleaning. Anything else? I know he reimburses for personal travel at commercial rates; at least I think he does. I assume toiletries and other personal items he pays for, but there must be a document somewhere that spells all this out.

Is there?
posted by 724A to Law & Government (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: The US government has reams and reams of written rules and regulations. There has to be a written document(s) somewhere for this, right?
posted by 724A at 11:46 AM on December 19, 2014

The President has a salary, an expense account, and a retirement plan. There are also post-retirement fringe benefits. The President also has health insurance.

Although I don't know this, I suspect that there is no agreed-to notion of vacation, since the salary is fixed regardless of vacation.
posted by saeculorum at 11:49 AM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: US Code Title 3, chapter 2 deals with the funding and allowances of the executive branch, including the president.

I haven't read the whole thing, but I believe that, like the CEO of most corporations, the president gets as much time off as he can justify taking.
posted by muddgirl at 11:51 AM on December 19, 2014

Best answer: Some of the rules are statutory.

For example, 3 U.S. Code Section 102 provides:

The President shall receive in full for his services during the term for which he shall have been elected compensation in the aggregate amount of $400,000 a year, to be paid monthly, and in addition an expense allowance of $50,000 to assist in defraying expenses relating to or resulting from the discharge of his official duties. Any unused amount of such expense allowance shall revert to the Treasury pursuant to section 1552 of title 31, United States Code. No amount of such expense allowance shall be included in the gross income of the President. He shall be entitled also to the use of the furniture and other effects belonging to the United States and kept in the Executive Residence at the White House.

And 3 USC 104 addresses the president's travelling expenses:

There may be expended for or on account of the traveling expenses of the President of the United States such sum as Congress may from time to time appropriate, not exceeding $100,000 per annum, such sum when appropriated to be expended in the discretion of the President and accounted for on his certificate solely.
posted by Area Man at 11:56 AM on December 19, 2014

$190k per year pension after 4 years work? Not bad!

The story of the pension is an interesting one. Until Harry Truman, there was no pension for the President -- he just went back to being a regular citizen. Most modern Presidents had, of course, been wealthy prior to going into office -- Roosevelt and Hoover, in particular, had extensive personal resources prior to coming to office.

Truman was different. Famously, of course, he had been a failed shopkeeper and a small-time farmer. He was also entitled to an army pension of $112.56 per month from his WWI service, on which he had to support not only himself and his wife (no health insurance) but also pay for any help (including security and administrative help). Eschewing offers to lend his name to endorsements or sit on boards, he instead decided to write a book (the very sort of book he had always enjoyed reading -- a personal history of his experience). But his book advance was subject to a high tax rate (the marginal rate was much higher than it is today), and he nearly ended up in debt over the project.

In 1958 Congress, for the first time, established a pension (then set at $25,000 per year) for former Presidents, as well as a stipend for secretarial and administrative assistance. The act kept Truman afloat, ensuring that he and Bess could live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

In theory, the presidential pension exists to make the office more accessible. Certainly, for Truman, it enabled him to avoid having to continue to work into his 70's and beyond.
posted by anastasiav at 12:32 PM on December 19, 2014 [31 favorites]

Talking about "list of benefits" always makes me wonder if anyone ever offers said person a list of detriments. And makes me wonder if that ought not to fall under some sort of disclosure law, only it hasn't occurred to anyone to make it, yet.
posted by stormyteal at 10:00 PM on December 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nice bit about Truman - it would have saved Grant's family as well, although then we would have been deprived of a magnificent autobiography he wrote in his dying months to provide for them.

There are other perks - Nixon enjoyed bowling, and had a room downstairs converted into a bowling alley. Obama, of course, then converted it into a multi-use basketball court/mosque/jihadist training center.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:39 AM on December 23, 2014

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