Over the past fifteen years, Bill and Hillary have made over $153 million giving speeches. They made 729 speeches during that time. Think about that. By my math, that’s almost 50 speeches a year. For which their average payment was over $200,000.
Hillary has defended this in various ways. For instance, she has claimed that after the enforced poverty of Bill serving as President they needed to make money. I get that, but doesn’t that seem a bit excessive? Here are the things the U.S. taxpayers cover for ex-Presidents, including Bill Clinton: (1) a lifetime pension that matches the salary of a current head of an executive department — currently over $200,000 per year; (2) seven months of transition costs; (3) on-going private office space and staff; (4) medical treatment offered at military hospitals at “interagency rates” and the opportunity to buy health insurance via the Federal health insurance exchange; (5) lifetime Secret Service protection.
None of this is monumentally significant and I have no quibble with an ex-President needing to do something to fill his time and his bank account. But Bill and Hillary did all sorts of other things as well. She ran for U.S. Senate and won, earning a salary and benefits while she served. He wrote his memoirs for which he was paid millions of dollars. She probably did to. She served as Secretary of State, earning another salary and benefits while serving.provision
Isn’t there a point where enough is enough? I’d say there is and the problem with these speeches is … well. As Elizabeth Warren pointed out way back in 2004 in an interview with Bill Moyers, there is a potential for something here. According to Ms. Warren, there was a bankruptcy bill that the big banks favored. When Bill Clinton was President, he vetoed the legislation with his wife one of the strongest voices urging him to do so. Fast forward a couple of years and Bill is out of office, the two Clintons are making their millions giving speeches, and Hillary is a U.S. Senator — she voted for the bill. As Ms. Warren stated:
As Senator Clinton, the pressures are very different. It’s a well-financed industry. You know a lot of people don’t realize that the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry, was not pharmaceuticals, it was consumer credit products. Those are the people, the credit card companies have been giving money and they have influence.
It’s one thing for the special interests to provide campaign contributions — that creates enough of an appearance of corruption and influence-peddling — but when they are also directly compensating elected officials and their spouses in what is so clearly an effort to buy their influence, it just smells. Smells like a whole lot of crap, to be honest. There is something about the Clintons that just dances along the edge of ethics and honest behavior. Their speechifying and claims of purity and innocence just don’t ring true.
The Clintons needed to make a living after Bill left office. I’ve got no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is how they went about doing it. And it’s why I won’t be voting for Hillary this year. I’m fortunate to live in a very blue state that will send its electors to vote for the Democrat no matter who it is. As a result, that I won’t vote for her won’t matter in the big picture. If I lived in a battleground state, I might have to hold my nose. I don’t and I won’t.