In just a few weeks, former Vice President Joe Biden could be elected the 46th president of the United States. The job wields the kind of power only an elite group of Americans — i.e., former presidents — have ever realized. It also comes with a salary that would be a substantial pay increase from his past government salaries.
If elected president, Biden will earn an annual salary of $400,000 per year. Additionally, he’ll receive a $50,000 per year expense allowance, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment. This might seem like a huge amount, but being president comes with many expenses you might not realize.
While the first family doesn’t pay rent to live in the White House, they do foot the bill for living expenses. In her memoir “From the Heart,” Laura Bush offered a glimpse at some of the costs that come out of a president’s salary, including food, dry cleaning, clothing, hairstyling and all expenses from private parties. Maintaining a polished presidential image certainly isn’t cheap, so these costs could add up quickly.
Presidential Pay Increase
This would be a huge pay bump from Biden’s years as vice president, where his salary topped out at $230,700 per year. It’s also a much more substantial increase from his 36 years as a Delaware senator, where his salary varied from $44,600 when he was first elected in 1973 to $169,300 when he stepped down in January 2009 to become vice president.
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As with many jobs, presidential benefits don’t stop when they leave office. Former presidents are eligible for a taxable lifetime pension equal to the annual salary of heads of executive branch departments — i.e., Cabinet secretaries. As of 2020, this was $210,700 per year.
No Longer ‘The Poorest Man in Congress’
Regardless, Biden won’t be hurting for cash when he enters retirement. His net worth is currently $9 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. This is a huge shift from his decades in the Senate when he used to joke that he was “the poorest man in Congress.”
In fact, his tax returns since 1998 show just three years where Biden and his wife Jill’s earnings exceeded $400,000. The couple’s earnings have exponentially increased since leaving the White House, totaling $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018. This is due to several factors, including a three-book deal worth a rumored $8 million, according to Publisher’s Weekly, and paid speaking fees.
Earning Power Post-Presidency
Biden has clearly done well financially since stepping away from public office, but his earning power could rise substantially as a former president. For example, former President Barack Obama currently commands $400,000 per paid speech, according to ThoughtCo. He and his wife, Michelle, also scored a $65 million book deal for their respective memoirs and signed a multiyear Netflix deal for an unknown amount, according to Variety.
If elected, this is very promising for Biden’s financial future. After serving his time in the Oval Office, he would likely receive bigger speaking fees and even more lucrative book deals. Of course, he has to be elected to office first, so stay tuned until Nov. 3 — or shortly after — to see if Biden finally becomes the most powerful man in the free world.
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