Betcha Didn’t Know This!

Some little known facts about our leadership in Washington:

1.  Whenever lawmakers decide to show up for a flight, they are guaranteed free parking at the two Washington-area airports, according to a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. At Reagan National, 89 spaces out of 8,000 are reserved for members of Congress, diplomats and Supreme Court justices; at Dulles International, 97 of 25,000 are set aside.

2. The families of current members of Congress who die typically receive a full year’s salary as compensation. Survivors of Representatives are entitled to an additional sum. That amounts to at least $174,000 for rank and file legislators, and more for those in leadership positions.  It’s not unusual for death benefits to be paid to the relatives of people who die while working for the government; what’s surprising is the scope of the benefits for lawmakers. By comparison, the families of members of the armed forces killed on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan are only entitled to $100,000 for their loss.

3.  No legislator – living or dead – has been paid a higher salary by the taxpayer than Speaker Boehner and now Speaker Paul Ryan.  While in office, the Ohio Republican was paid the top annual salary in Congress: $223,500. His Senate counterpart, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D – Nev., and other congressional leaders are paid much less, $193,400 per year.  The House speaker’s taxpayer-funded perks don’t stop when he leaves office. Like all members of Congress who have held office for at least five years (Boehner has been in the House since 1991), he is entitled to a generous pension.  But Boehner gets an additional benefit: Up to $1 million per year for up to five years after he leaves the office  to “facilitate the administration, settlement and conclusion of matters pertaining to or arising out of” his tenure as speaker of the House, according to a little known law.  This provision has allowed former Speaker Denny Hastert, R – Ill., to rack up more than $997,000 during the course of three years to document materials related to his time in office. The current salary (2011-2012) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

4.  The 1983 amendments to the Social Security Act required federal employees first hired after 1983 to participate in Social Security. These amendments also required all Members of Congress to participate in Social Security as of January 1, 1984, regardless of when they first entered Congress.  As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants’ contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

Almost half of the members of Congress are millionaires and the median net worth is $913,000. According to the Washington Post, the median net worth in 2009 of a House representative was more than 2.5 times more than it was in 1984 — $725,00 vs. $280,000 — adjusted for inflation.  See chart below of the richest in Congress.

4. The President earns $400,000.00 per year along with a $50,000.00 expense allowance. The salary of the vice president is currently (for 2011) $230,700.00. Under the Former Presidents Act, each former president is paid a lifetime, taxable pension that is equal to the annual rate of basic pay for the head of an executive federal department — $199,700 in 2011 — the same annual salary paid to secretaries of the Cabinet agencies.  Each former president and vice president may also take advantage of funds allocated by Congress to help facilitate their transition to private life. These funds are used to provide suitable office space, staff compensation, communications services, and printing and postage associated with the transition. As an example, Congress authorized a total of $1.5 million for the transition expenses of outgoing president George H.W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.

The Secret Service provides lifetime protection for former presidents who entered office before January 1, 1997, and for their spouses. Surviving spouses of former presidents receive protection until remarriage. Legislation enacted in 1984 allows former Presidents or their dependents to decline Secret Service protection.  Former Presidents and their spouses, widows, and minor children are entitled to treatment in military hospitals. Health care costs are billed to the individual at a rate established by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Former Presidents and their dependents may also enroll in private health plans at their own expense.

According to a report in the New York Post, President Obama’s White House employed 454 people with an annual cost of $37,121,463.  The administration can point to the fact that there are 15 fewer people on the payroll this year, representing a savings of $1.7 million dollars a year. (For the record, Czars are excluded from this list.)  But, within those numbers are some very interesting facts worth mentioning:

Obama’s 454 employees beats George W. Bush’s 447.

Obama’s crew also costs taxpayers $4 million dollars per year MORE than Bush’s, 13% more.

Also among the current White House staffers, 21 of them are earning the maximum allowed of $172,200 (very close to what Senators and Congressmen earn)

Almost one in three makes $100k.

Michelle Obama has 16 paid staff which cost the American taxpayers $1,256,700.

Laura Bush had 10 paid staff which cost the American taxpayers $764,900.

A difference of $491,800.

First lady Michelle Obama’s ski trip to Aspen, Colorado on President’s Day  weekend with her two daughters cost taxpayers at least $83,182.99, Judicial Watch reported, part of almost $1 million of taxpayer money that Mrs. Obama has spent on three trips alone.  A trip to Spain in 2010 by Michelle Obama, family, and staff cost taxpayers  $467,585 and a trip by the First Lady and family to South Africa and Botswana last year cost $424,142 for the flight and crew alone, according to Judicial Watch.  Maliah and Sasha Obama were listed on the manifest as “Senior Advisers”!

Name Minimum Net Worth Average Maximum Net Worth
Darrell Issa (R-Calif) $195,400,035 $448,125,017 $700,850,000
Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $258,618,051 $380,411,527 $502,205,003
Jane Harman (D-Calif) $160,085,503 $326,844,751 $493,604,000
John Kerry (D-Mass) $181,469,521 $231,722,794 $281,976,067
Mark Warner (D-Va) $76,372,212 $192,730,605 $309,088,999
Herb Kohl (D-Wis) $88,228,026 $173,538,010 $258,847,994
Jared Polis (D-Colo) $57,944,127 $143,218,562 $228,492,998
Vernon Buchanan (R-Fla) $-50,724,701 $136,152,641 $323,029,983
Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) $5,946,075 $101,123,032 $196,299,990
Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) $61,632,019 $99,057,011 $136,482,003
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