Ex-Presidents Cost US $3.7M Last Year
Nancy Reagan waived her $20K pension
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2013 2:52 AM CDT
Former Presidents George HW Bush,,left, Bill Clinton,center, and Jimmy Carter walk to the stage during a dedication ceremony for the Billy Graham Library.   (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

(Newser) – Don't expect this budget item to be chopped any time soon: The government spent $3.7 million on the four living ex-presidents last year, excluding Secret Service costs, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The cash covered pensions, benefits for office staff, and expenses like travel and postage, the AP reports. George W. Bush cost the feds $1.3 million in 2012, while his father received $840,000. Bill Clinton received close to $1 million—including $442,000 for his Harlem office—and Jimmy Carter received half a million.

The $3.7 million is around $200,000 less than was spent last year, NPR notes. Nancy Reagan, the only living presidential widow, waived her $20,000 pension last year but received $14,000 for postage costs. The funding for ex-presidents is only a tiny sliver of the federal budgets, though critics say the Former Presidents Act—created in 1958 to deal with Harry Truman's post-presidency financial problems—should be re-examined now that ex-presidents are raking in huge sums from book deals and speaking tours. GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced a bill last year to limit the payout to $400,000 per ex-president, but it died in committee.