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Robert Longley

No Raise for Next President

By November 6, 2012

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Whether it's Mitt Romney, Barak Obama or somebody else, the winner of today's 2012 presidential election will not be getting a raise for at least the next four years.

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides that "The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected ..."

The president's salary is set by Congress and even if Congress were inclined to increase the president's current $400,000 a year salary, it cannot do so until 2017, because the next president's term - "the Period for which he shall have been elected," - will run through 2016.

The president's salary is set by Congress, and under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, may not be increased or reduced during his or her current term of office. As a result, whatever the president's salary is on the day he or she is sworn in is fixed for the remainder of that term. This applies whether the president has been elected, re-elected or assumes office due to the death, resignation or impeachment of the previous president.

Also See: Presidential Pay and Compensation

For the winner of the 2012 presidential election to get a raise, legislation authorizing it would have to be enacted before January 20, 2013, when either President Obama, Gov. Romney, or a third party or independent candidate is officially sworn in. However, no such legislation has been introduced or even discussed and Congress is not scheduled to re-convene until after the election.

Note: The 20th Amendment to the Constitution requires that presidents-elect be sworn in before noon on January 20. But since January 20, 2013 falls on a Sunday, the constitutionally required official swearing in will be conducted in private. The inauguration and public swearing in ceremony will be conducted on Monday, January 21, 2013.

The last presidential raise -- from $200,000 to $400,000 -- was enacted on Sept. 29 1999, and became effective on Jan. 20, 2001. In this case, 42nd President Bill Clinton had the distinction of signing a bill that granted his successor and political foe, 43rd President George W. Bush, a raise. The president's salary had been set at $200,000 since 1969.

Also See: Presidential Retirement Benefits

Since George Washington was paid $25,000 a year in 1789, Congress has raised the presidential salary five times: In 1873 to $50,000 for Ulysses S. Grant's second term; in 1909 to $75,000 for William Howard Taft; in 1949 to $100,000 for Harry Truman; in 1969 to $200,000 for Richard Nixon; and in 1999 to the current $400,000 for George W. Bush.

In addition to the $400,000 annual salary, the president gets a $50,000 annual expense account for "official purposes." While the president's salary is taxable, the expense account is not. Any unspent funds from the expense account are returned to the Treasury Department at the end of the fiscal year.

Also See: Congress Pay and Benefits

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