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Jimmy Carter, shortchanged again

Is Jimmy Carter the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents? Judging by the amount of taxpayer money he gets compared to George W. Bush, it sure seems that wayIs Jimmy Carter the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents?  It sure seems that way.

Buried in a Times story Monday about how much our retired presidents receive in taxpayer funds was this line:

"Former presidents receive varying amounts for expenses such as an office, staff and travel expenses. The amounts paid in fiscal 2011, including the pension, varied from $517,000 for Carter to $1.3 million for George W. Bush. Secret Service protection costs are not included."

Now maybe Carter doesn't care. Maybe you don't care. Undoubtedly Dubya doesn't care.

But really, now -- a retired Bush is more than twice as valuable as a retired Carter?

I'm thinking, What's a guy got to do to get a little respect?

Carter goes around building homes with Habitat for Humanity. 

Bush shows up in the front row at the World Series.

Carter goes to North Korea and gets a captured American freed.

Bush shows up at the World Series.

Carter irritates the heck out of pro-Israel types everywhere.

Bush shows up -- oh, you know.

Perhaps alone among Americans, I persist in my belief that Carter was a president unappreciated by today's pundits and historians.  Not a great president, perhaps. But not the Edsel of presidents either.

Anyway, it appears that all of our former presidents are headed for some belt-tightening. The Times reported that the proposed Presidential Allowance Modernization Act seeks to amend a half-century-old law that sought to "maintain the dignityā€¯ of the office of the president.

The proposal would provide a taxpayer supported pension of $200,000, about the same amount that they now receive. But payments to ex-presidents for outside expenses such as office staff and travel would be cut back if their outside income exceeded $400,000 a year.

Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush collectively received about $3.8 million from taxpayers in fiscal 2011, according to records. 

OK, yeah, that seems like more "dignity" than we can afford right now for these guys. 

Because let's face it: Most of them are well off. And that's a bipartisan position:  Clinton doesn't need the cash any more than the Bushies.

But I'm sticking by Carter. I'm betting an ex-peanut farmer could use the dough.

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-- Paul Whitefield

Photo: Jimmy Carter. Credit: David McNew / Getty Images

 

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