The Obamas prepare to cash in
David Walsh, WSWS, Feb 3 2017
Barack Obama certainly did his part. Corporate profits soared during his eight years in office. The wealth of the richest 400 Pindostanis grew from one-and-a-half to two trillion dollars. Social inequality increased at an accelerating rate. With Obama in the White House, the stock market enjoyed one of its most successful runs in history. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 148%, a greater percentage increase than under Ronald Reagan. After Obama, according to CNN Money:
Dow components JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have skyrocketed since the bailout and are not far from their record highs. … Apple’s shares have surged more than 415% since he took office. Amazon’s are up an astonishing 900%. And Facebook, which went public during the last few months of Obama’s first term in 2012, is up 230% from its offering price.
The NYT gloated last year:
The facts are inescapable. The Obama years have been among the best of times to be a stock investor, going all the way back to the dawn of the 20th century. Consider that had you been prescient enough to buy shares of a low-cost stock index fund on Mr Obama’s first inauguration day on Jan 20, 2009, you would now have tripled your money. Stock market performance of this level has rarely been surpassed.
Supplementing that, Time Magazine pointed out that under Obam:
Pindosi stocks more than tripled investors’ money, generating total returns (which include the value of reinvested dividends) of 235% … Shares of companies based in Europe, Japan, and other developed economies gained just 96% in total.
So it seems only fair that, having made the already immensely rich a great deal richer at the expense of the working class, Obama should reap the appropriate reward. He and his wife certainly seem to be of that opinion. One startling recent headline reads:
Obama could make up to $242m after leaving Washington DC.
It is based on a study carried out by a researcher at the business school of The Pindosi University in Faschingstein. The study itself, a little less sensationally headlined, “How Presidents Make Their Millions,” indeed argues:
The Obamas could earn as much as $242.5m from speeches, book deals and pensions, assuming a retirement age of 70. Not bad for a couple that entered office with $1.3m in total net worth.
The great question the study addresses is whether the Obamas will outdo the Clintons in amassing wealth after leaving the White House.
Could the Obamas equal or even exceed the Clintons’ $75m in their fifteenth year out of office? That seems likely. Obama leaves office with two best-sellers already to his name to add to the estimated $40m in book fees he and Michelle will receive. Add $3m in pension income and about 50 speeches a year at a conservative $200k apiece and you’re already close to $200m before taxes. Enough to put the Obamas high up on the list of wealthiest former first families.
The WaPo suggests other options:
Any corporate board would probably be happy to have a former president at the table. Corporate boards pay well, with many offering healthy six-figure fees and private jet travel to and from the meetings. Obama has said he does not want to travel by commercial air in the future.
The Obamas are already wealthy. Columnist Andrew Lisa notes:
Barack Obama earned $400k/yr throughout his entire eight-year term. … The president also receives a $50k/yr expense account, a $100k/yr non-taxable travel account and a $19k entertainment budget. On Apr 15 2016, Pres Obama released his 2015 tax returns, which showed that he and first lady Michelle Obama filed jointly and reported an adjusted gross income of $436,065. They paid $81,472 in taxes according to their 18.7% tax rate. … According to CelebrityNetWorth.com, Obama has a net worth of $12.2m and Michelle Obama is not far behind with a net worth of $11.8m.
Obama’s pension payment for 2017 will be $207.8k. Upon leaving the White House Jan 20, following a vacation in Palm Springs California, Obama and his family were scheduled to move into a quasi-mansion in the Kalorama section of north-west Washington DC. The house, with nine bedrooms and eight-and-a-half bathrooms spanning three stories not including a lower level, according to Forbes, is a “lavish residence in a desirable neighborhood. It was built in 1928, and it has 8,200 sq ft” according to Business Insider, which adds:
Both Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the family of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner can be counted as the Obamas’ new neighbors in Kalorama, as both have also recently purchased homes in the neighborhood. The Obamas will lease the home from Joe Lockhart, who served as press secretary in Clinton 42’s White House, until their younger daughter Sasha finishes high school.
The property is worth $7m, a figure expected to increase by over $300k in the coming year. It was listed for sale at $5.3m before going off the market in May.
The Obamas will be paying $5.5k/wk in rent for their residence. In addition, they own a $1.5m home in Chicago and if the WaPo is to be believed:
Obama, an avid golfer, is also reportedly noodling around for a home in Rancho Mirage [in the Palm Springs area], where golf is akin to a religion.
The ‘Palm Desert Patch’ indicates:
According to the rumor mill, the Obama family is looking to buy a home in Rancho Mirage, possibly in the Thunderbird Heights neighborhood. The area is known “as the ‘Playground of the Presidents.’
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels argued more than a century and a half ago that the “executive of the modern state” was nothing more than “a committee for managing the common affairs” of the entire ruling class. That is more transparently and obscenely true and the officials of this “executive” are more highly compensated than ever.