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Q&A: President's salary and pay schedule

Pay for the president

What is President-elect Obama's salary, and how often is he paid?

The president receives $400,000 a year, paid in monthly installments, and an expense allowance of $50,000 to help defray official expenses. Other perks include the White House, a large staff, an airplane and an entertainment allowance.

The first Congress voted to pay George Washington $25,000 a year, a lot of money back then. Washington, a wealthy man, declined the money. Legislation in 1999 doubled the president's salary, effective in 2001.

Origin of 'Hail to the Chief'

What are the lyrics to Hail to the Chief? Who wrote it and when?

The song Hail to the Chief is played at formal occasions for the arrival of the president of the United States. The lyrics originate in the poem The Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott, published in 1810. The popular narrative poem was adapted for the theater, and in 1812 James Sanderson wrote the music to Hail to the Chief in England. In the United States, the song was first associated with a chief executive in 1815 when it was played to honor the late George Washington.

Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances!

Honored and blessed be the evergreen Pine!

Long may the tree, in his banner that glances,

Flourish the shelter and grace of our line!

President-elect's expenses paid

Who pays for the president-elect's travel and other official expenses prior to his taking the oath of office on Jan. 20?

The taxpayers, according to the Presidential Transition Act of 1963. It "promotes the orderly transfer of the executive power in connection with the expiration of the term of office of a President and the Inauguration of a new President."

The General Services Administration, the agency that writes the checks, had $7.1-million for the 2000-01 transition: $1.83-million for the outgoing Clinton administration, $4.27-million for the incoming Bush team and a $1-million cushion. This year, the budget is $8.52-million to pay for office space, travel, printing and other expenses.

Greetings from the White House

Does the president still send out letters for 50th wedding anniversaries?

Yes, the White House Greetings Office receives and processes all requests on behalf of the president. Mail your request to: The White House, Attn: Greetings Office, Washington, D.C. 20502-0039. Please review the guidelines for greetings found at because requests that do not meet the guidelines or lack specific information will not be filled. You also can e-mail your request through the Web site. The White House sends greetings to U.S. citizens for special occasions including a baby's birth, an 80th (or greater) birthday, a recent wedding or a 50th (or greater) wedding anniversary.

Q&A: President's salary and pay schedule 01/11/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 9:27pm]
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