Barack Obama has broken a lot of barriers in his life, working as a civil rights attorney for more than a decade while working in office. Obama was on the Illinois State Senate from 1997 to 2004, and then became a United States Senator in 2004. Obama got a lot of attention during this time, and turned it into a Presidential campaign in 2008.
Obama would go on to win the 2008 election against John McCain by receiving 52.9 percent of the popular vote and 365 electoral college votes, making him the first African American President, as well as the first one born in the state of Hawaii. However, he has not been close to being the richest president of all-time in terms of net worth. Adjusted for a more modern (2010) dollar value, Obama actually ranks toward the bottom in terms of net worth with a current $12.2 million. In case you were wondering, George Washington was the richest with an estimated $525 million net worth.
When Obama first became President, his net worth was only worth $1.3 million, but has increased dramatically during his two terms. It’s public knowledge that the President’s salary is $400,000 per year, which was enacted in 2001 after the previous salary had been $200 for the prior 32 years.
Along with his salary, Obama has an expense account of $50,000, a $100,000 travel account that is not taxed, and an extra $19,000 for entertainment purposes. Obama released two books during the past decade, “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams from my Father” in 2006 and 2008, respectively. The earnings from those books have pocketed an extra $275,000 for Obama and his family.
Both of those books were released before Obama took office, and there is a rule in place that says the President can not release one while serving in office. However, you can bet that there will be another money making publication shortly after his time as President has ended. Obama also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, which came with a prize of $1.4 million, but he donated all of it to charity.
So where is all of Obama’s income coming from, exactly? Obama is still making nearly half of his income from book royalties even though they have been released for years, while the rest is comprised mostly of his $400,000 salary. The remaining one percent comes from the U.S. Treasury in the form of notes and bills, as well as a retirement fund comprised of three Vanguard 500 index funds and Treasury bills.
It’s estimated that 34 percent of Obama’s net worth has been put into portfolios that include Calvert Equity and Portfolio 529. Half of the money is in cash, nine percent is put into checking accounts with several different banks and the remaining seven percent is placed into retirement accounts.
Once he leaves office, Obama will be making more money than ever. The Presidential pension plan will pay him nearly $200,000 per year, and he will be free to price himself out for speaking engagements. Early estimates say that Obama will be charging anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million for appearances, much like Bill Clinton did. Clinton saw his net worth increase from $12 million at the end of his Presidency to a current $80 million.
The same people are estimating that Obama’s net worth can eclipse $100 million in about a decade after his term is over. Clinton sold his autobiography rights for $15 million while George W. Bush received $7 million. Obama is estimated to be in the same price range as Clinton was when he released “My Life”.
So while Barack Obama doesn’t get paid all that much in terms of salary compared to some of your favorite athletes or celebrities, he is still doing just fine for himself and will work himself into a higher tax bracket once his time as President has come to an end in January 2017. Whether or not he starts to approve tax breaks for the wealthiest residents a few years down the road remains to be seen, but he’ll get to see how the highest paid people deal with it.