Opinion: Jimmy Carter, shortchanged again


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Is 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 dignity” 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.


Jimmy Carter, a president for our time


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