Being a Former President Can Be Very Lucrative Indeed

The talk of the presidential campaign was the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton were worth hundreds of millions of dollars and never spent one day in the private sector to earn it. Their total worth could not possibly happen on government paychecks, book royalties and lecture fees alone. So where do people like this earn so much money basically as career politicians?

Barack and Michelle Obama leave the White House after eight years on Friday. Both will be comforted knowing they are now multi-millionaires. Reports say they could make up to $240 million more as they cash in on lucrative book deals and speaking tours. Yet that alone will not comprise the estimated value of being White House veterans, according to a study by American University.

President Obama’s current net worth is $12.2 million while the first lady is worth $11.8 million, according to Doing the math, they would have to earn an additional $217 million to reach the estimate for the post-presidency. So where does that come from?

Any way you slice it, it’s a lot more than when they entered the White House in 2008. The president had little to show on his pre-presidential resume. Take away his 18-months as a U.S. senator, his stint in the Illinois State Senate, Chicago Law School and his community organizing job and there isn’t much to show in the bank account based on those relatively low-paying jobs.

former president big smileThis past eight years has been good financially for the first couple. The Obamas reportedly made $2,656,902 the year he became America’s first African-American president, significantly more than when he was earning $80,000 in salary from the Illinois State Senate and $32,000 from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a professor, according to

Before 2008, Obama had earned more than $3 million in book royalties. He also added more millions to his name when he acquired a financial fund worth between $1 million and $5 million that same year. Not even close to that estimated $240 million.

Meanwhile during his presidency, Obama was getting an annual salary of $400,000, plus a $50,000 annual expense account, $100,000 for travel, which was not taxed, and an entertainment budget of $19,000. That in itself is laughable when the cost of his many vacations to Hawaii alone was an estimated $90 million. Of course that money was on the American taxpayer.

What is the final tally of all this? Barack and Michelle Obama do not leave the White House poor people in any sense of the word. In fact, the Obamas’ combined net worth of $24 million as of January 20 is a tidy sum of money for a professional politician and his wife.

But that dwarfs in comparison to the riches they are likely to amass in the future; the $242 million estimated by the International Business Times which is $2 million more than the American University study. It pays to be president these days, more to the point, obscene.

Is the reason African-Americans identify with him and like him so much because he is so much like them?

Clearly nobody would want a former president to be a pauper but it would have been good if a president was able to do something for the 95+ million Americans not in the workforce and the 45+ million on food stamps.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. He has written more than 3500 national political and foreign affairs columns. His BS in journalism from the University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.


Dwight has 30-years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. His first book, “Redistribution of Common Sense – Selective Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014,” was published in July, 2014. “The Game Changer – America’s Most Stunning Presidential Election in History,” was published in April 2017.


Dwight is a native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.