Obama's Perks: Private Jet, Chef Tax-Free

America's CEOs are coming under fire these days not just for their hefty salaries but also for their use of private jets, limos with drivers and free trips to posh resorts.

But they aren't alone in living this lavish lifestyle -- the president of United States gets all these perks and more.

And unlike some of his Cabinet appointments, he doesn't have to pay taxes on these benefits.

It might be a bit of a stretch to compare today's corporate titans with the commander in chief, but some Wall Street bloggers clearly upset with President Obama's attempts to rein in executive pay are doing just that.

"Some accountability needs to be put in place. We won't have them kicking sand in the face of taxpayers any longer," said one private equity worker on Dealbreaker.com, a Wall Street gossip site and blog.

The president makes $400,000 a year, but hasn't received a raise from Congress since 2001. He also gets a $50,000 annual entertainment expense account (any unused money at the end of the year must go back to the Treasury.)

Then there is the use of two private jets, Boeing 747s better known as Air Force One. And of course the constant security details, drivers, a private chef, a country vacation estate and the rent-free use of a well-known, 132-room mansion called the White House.

The president also used to have a yacht, until Jimmy Carter sold it.

But not everything is a freebie for the president and his family.

The Obamas have to pay for all their own groceries, drinks, dry cleaning and even their toothpaste. All of those personal items get taken out of his salary. Granted, the private chef then prepares dinner using those groceries.

The president's salary and perks have come under the spotlight since Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., introduced a bill that would cap annual executive pay at companies receiving government bailout money at $400,000.

Corporate America quickly pointed out that while the president also only makes $400,000 a year, he gets all sorts of extra perks and doesn't have to pay taxes on them.

Presidential Vacations 'Part of the Job'

If a CEO borrows the company jet to go on a private vacation, he or she might not be charged by the company for the perk, but they do have to pay income taxes on the value of such a flight.

For the president, it's a different story.

It's hard to say that Air Force One and all of the president's support staff should not travel with him, even on vacation, especially in the post-9/11 world, said presidential historian and ABC News consultant Richard Norton Smith.

"Certainly, if the president goes on vacation, it's part of the job, because the president never goes on vacation," Smith said. "I don't you think you can legitimately argue against the communications and everything else that travels with and surrounds a president."

(If the president adds a fundraiser into a trip, that portion of the expenses is typically paid back through the campaign.)

Ed Rogers, who was deputy assistant to the president and executive assistant to the White House chief of staff for George H.W. Bush, agreed that there's a difference between the president and a company CEO.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...