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The president of the United States is considered the most powerful person on the planet. Advantages such as Secret Service protection, a personal 747 and near limitless power are counterbalanced by worldwide notoriety, the need for Secret Service protection and the weight of the world's problems.
Compensation & Benefits
Wages are a big part of any job and the presidency is no different. Sitting presidents, as of 2014, are paid $400,000 per year in office, with an extra $50,000 provided for personal expenses. In addition the commander in chief has his own dedicated medical staff, the use of Air Force One, Marine One, the White House and the presidential limousine as well as round-the-clock Secret Service protection for him and his family forever. In retirement the president has a pension worth $191,300 per year, plus expenses for moving and transition from the White House up to $7.7 million, a staff, travel expenses, office space and all administrative costs associated with it. Former presidents get free medical care at military hospitals.
Stress is a real part of the presidency. It is often blamed for the seemingly accelerated aging process that presidents undergo while in office. A quick look through photographs of any president from inauguration day throughout his term will reveal noticeable changes in his appearance. Medical experts feel the change is real and the result of a need to keep most of the more stressful and therefore classified information to themselves. Others believe those who seek the office like the stress, live well and age like the rest of us, albeit more visibly since they are constantly before our eyes.
The sitting president has a marked advantage over any other candidate at election time. The office of the presidency provides its own gravitas, sense of legitimacy and the famed bully pulpit. The president enjoys a status few will ever have and as such, he has more airtime, more access and more sway with the voters. He has more money to spend and more friends in high places to help out. He has the power to grant favors and influence votes more than most any challenger and he already has a Cabinet in place and a track record to brag about, in some cases.
IFame can always be seen as a negative or a positive depending on the person and the way she uses it. U.S. presidents are the most photographed, broadcast and well-known people inside or outside the United States. Their fame does not end with their last term in office and it can be a burden. Along with the annoyance of fame comes the payoff. Book advances and speaking fees can add up to serious money for former leaders. Bill Clinton was paid $15 million for his first book and has earned more than $100 million in speaking fees since he left the office in 2009.
- CNN: Being Ex President Can Be Lucrative Gig
- Forbes: What Are President Obama's Advantages Heading Into the 2012 Elections?
- Congressional Research Service: CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress President of the United States: Compensation
- AARP The Magazine: The Presidents Retirement Club
- U.S. Senate: Former Presidents: Federal Pension and Retirement Benefits
- CNN: Do Presidents Age Faster in Office?
- CNN: First on CNN: Bill Clinton's $106 million speech circuit windfall
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.