Jason Chaffetz had a concise response to a Wednesday USA Today headline, which read "Obama's $400,000 speech could prompt Congress to go after his pension": "Yes, it will." That speech, one Obama will make at a Cantor Fitzgerald conference, is earning him some heat, prompting Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, to pull up a bill Obama vetoed last summer that would've slashed ex-presidents' pensions once outside income hit $400,000. Chaffetz says Obama's veto of the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act, which he and Senate sponsor Joni Ernst say they'll re-up later in May, was "self-serving," and the former president's "hypocrisy ... is revealing," per USA Today. At the time, Intelligencer notes, Obama said he was opposed to suddenly leaving staffers of ex-presidents in the lurch, though he would've been open to "technical fixes" in the bill.
Former presidents now take home a $207,800 pension, plus $150,000 for staff and office space; other benefits also boost costs. Chaffetz's bill strove to cap the total at $400,000: a $200,000 pension, $200,000 for expenses, and a dollar-by-dollar reduction of that total once an ex-president earns beyond $400,000. If they "want to go fishing in Utah for the rest of their lives," they'll be "well compensated," Chaffetz said in 2015, per USA Today, but if they're going to rack up big bucks, "taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize them." No comment from a current Obama rep, though ex-White House spokesman Eric Schultz says any speech Obama gives will stay "true to his values, his vision, and his record"; President Trump has been mum. Pols on both sides of the aisle, however, seem open to such a measure, including Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who co-sponsored the original bill. (Chaffetz is winding his governmental tenure down.)