Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Don't Think So

Hillary Clinton says the Clinton family emerged from eight years in the White House "dead broke."

Color me skeptical.

I grew up in Arkansas. I know what the pay was like for statewide officials there. Until the voters changed it, state officials were paid $10,000 a year or less. Clinton may have been paid at that level for awhile, but voters gave state officers a raise at some point, and his salary went up to around $30,000 a year.

That was a princely sum at the time, but it was still less than most state governors received. Today, it isn't even as much as the state's median family income.

Anyway, I don't doubt that the Clintons were low on funds when they entered the White House.

But Bill Clinton was paid $200,000 a year as president, and he served for eight years. While Clinton was president, the salary for the president was doubled, effective for the next president — so Clinton received $1.6 million while president. His successor served two terms and received $3.2 million, as will Barack Obama by the time his second term ends.

I know that Clinton didn't have all that money stashed away when he left the White House. He had to pay some tax on his income, of course, and Hillary was right about having to buy a house and pay for their daughter's education (although she could have found cheaper places to go to school than Stanford, Oxford and Columbia).

But she became a senator just before he left the presidency. Senators at that time made just over $140,000 a year. President Clinton's memoirs sold more than 2 million copies.

Like everyone else, the Clintons had expenses. I'm not saying they didn't, and, as I have already observed, no one has ever gotten rich on a public servant's pay in Arkansas — but, when they left the White House, the Clintons had sources and levels of income that are not part of the experience for most Americans.

To say they were dead broke upon leaving the White House seems like an exaggeration to me — not unlike Mrs. Clinton's '08 campaign assertion that she was better qualified to answer that infamous 3 a.m. phone call — and even if it was true, cash started flowing pretty quickly.

Well, if Mrs. Clinton seeks the presidency in 2016, as many people seem to think she will, she will have to release her financial information, and it will be subjected to considerable scrutiny.

As will her actions before, during and after the Benghazi attack.

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