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Happy returns

Bill Clinton has made a lot
more money speaking and writing
than he did presiding over the United States, according to the couple's tax returns. The money that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
and the former president earned in the past eight years seems like a lot. Is it? Let's see. $109-million is:

• The GDP of Anguilla, a British overseas territory
in the Caribbean ($108.9-million, 2004 estimate).

• How much Delta Air Lines lost in January 2007.

• How much the Saudis raised in donations to
Palestinians during a three-day telethon in 2002
in support of the intifada.

• The total in federal grants that 17 states received last year to enforce seat belt laws and promote highway safety.

• The amount of a 2003 Air Force contract with Lockheed Martin to replenish laser-guided bomb kits expended during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

• What Uganda spent to ease an electricity crisis in 2006.

Tidbits for cocktail conversation

That $109-million wouldn't cover the cost of the
new F-22 Raptor fighter jet, which goes for about $142-million a pop. However, it would be more than enough to buy two dozen tanks (an Abrams M1-A2 tank costs approximately $4.3-million).

That $109-million would have been nearly half the
purchase price of Bear Stearns ($236-million) when JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to buy it for $2 a share. (The price has since been raised.) But that $109-million is chump change in the entertainment world. Oprah Winfrey earns an estimated $260-million a year (and had an estimated net worth in 2007 of more than $1.5-billion).

Bill Clinton made the most recent Forbes Celebrity 100 List at 55, between Vince Vaughn and Gore Verbinski (He directed Pirates of the Caribbean.).

Sports figures have outpaced presidential salaries for decades. For example, when Bill Clinton was running for his second term in 1996, Shaquille O'Neal signed a $17-million-a-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers,

Yet it wasn't always so. The New York Times repeats an oft-told if difficult to verify story: In 1930, as Babe Ruth was trying to negotiate an $80,000 contract, reporters asked him if he wasn't embarrassed to be seeking more than the $75,000 that President Hoover earned.
"I had a better year," the Babe answered.

Still, even the Clintons' leanest year, the last year of the presidency, was far, far better than the median U.S. household income. The Clintons' adjusted gross income that year was $357,026. The median household income was $41,990.

Presidential wages, pensions, penmen

The presidential income doubled just before President Bush took office. So, Clinton made $200,000 per year, and Bush makes $400,000. The original presidential salary of $25,000 was refused by George Washington. While Ulysses S. Grant was president it rose to $50,000.

Presidents did not even receive pensions until 50 years ago. Harry Truman's financial straits in trying to hire an office staff moved Congress to act. The current presidential pension is $191,300.

Bill Clinton is not the only former president to write books. U.S. Grant, diagnosed with terminal throat cancer, wrote his Civil War memoirs in hopes of providing for his family after his death. Writing under intense, withering pain, Grant finished just days before he died. Published by Grant's friend Mark Twain, it ultimately earned nearly $450,000.

Compiled by Will Short Gorham, Times news researcher, from UPI, Associated Press, New York Times, Forbes, U.S. Air Force, CIA World Factbook, White House,
Congressional Research Service, Government Printing Office, U.S. Census Bureau.

Happy returns 04/12/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 17, 2008 9:53am]
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