George Bush says he won't accept a $12,500 monthly stipend from the Republican party, the same amount the GOP gives former President Ronald Reagan.
The letter Monday from Bush to the Republican National Committee came shortly after party chairman Haley Barbour defended the payments to both former presidents as reimbursement for GOP political activities. The stipend totals $150,000 per year, or $2,000 more than the public pension granted to former presidents.
Barbour said the party began making the payments to Reagan when he left office in 1989 and extended the policy to Bush this year. Many Republicans, including Barbour, have been sharply critical of Bush's 1992 campaign, and there is little demand within the party for Bush's assistance.
"Well, so far he really hasn't done anything," Barbour said when asked what Bush had done to justify the payments. "He has not done any political things yet."
But Barbour said Reagan frequently signs party fund-raising and other mail, makes appearances at party events and occasionally does videotaped addresses to party functions.
Former presidents get an office and expense budget at taxpayer expense, in addition to their annual pension of $148,000. Barbour said the RNC decided to pay the stipend because it "was felt . . . they should not spend taxpayers' money on their office accounts for their political work."