The 2016 election was among the nastiest in American history. The unprecedented general election — which came on the heels of a long, raucous and surprise-filled primary season — included accusations of election rigging, sexual abuse, corruption, lies, graft and even espionage.
Election Day has come and gone, and on Jan. 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be sworn in as President of the United States. He will earn a salary of $400,000 a year, but presidential perks go far beyond a paycheck. Here are some of the best benefits of being president.
1. You Fly High in Air Force One
The commander in chief flies in style, comfort and safety aboard a customized Boeing 747-200B. With 4,000 square feet of floor space, it has the sophisticated equipment necessary to serve as a command center. And since it can refuel midair, it can remain airborne as long as needed.
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The plane’s galleys can feed 100 people at a time, and the aircraft has the capacity to repel a wide range of attacks, including electromagnetic pulses. Air Force One costs about $200,000 an hour to operate, according to a CNN report.
2. You Take Off in Marine One
The greatest getaway vehicle in the world, Marine One is a super-specialized helicopter that goes wherever the president does. It is designed to rescue the president in the event of an emergency. Only four pilots from the vaunted Marine HMX-1 “Nighthawks” squadron are bestowed with the honor of flying the presidential super-chopper every year.
The helicopter can cruise at more than 150 mph and can operate if one of its engines fails. Marine One is armed with anti-missile systems and ballistic armor. Wherever it lands, a Marine salutes the president.
3. You Ride in ‘The Beast’
“The Beast” is the nickname given to the presidential limousine, which President Obama described as “a Caddy, basically on a tank frame.” Actually, it’s a fleet of 12 identical bulletproof and bombproof vehicles the president uses when moving by car.
Fox News reports that a new Beast is being built for 2017, and each vehicle will cost an estimated $1 million to $1.5 million.
4. You Live in Cool Digs
Presidents always have lived well in the White House, which had running water in 1833, central heating in 1837 and an elevator in 1881. The White House was built for $232,272 in the 1790s, according to History.com. The White House Historical Association says the building has 132 rooms.
Contrary to popular belief, there are no secret passages or hidden escapes — none known to the public, at least. However, there is a well-known underground complex that includes a florist and bowling alley.
5. You Earn Post-Presidency Office and Travel Expenses
The General Services Administration is required to furnish former presidents with enough money to cover travel and business expenses. In 2016, Congress presented President Obama legislation that would have capped taxpayer spending on former presidents’ office and travel expenses at $200,000 a year. The soon-to-be former president vetoed the bill.
6. You Pull in a Hefty Pension
Not only do presidents get cushy offices and free travel, they also receive a presidential pension — they were, after all, government employees. The Former Presidents Act sets into law what ex-presidents receive in compensation. All four living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush — received annual pensions of $205,700 in 2016.
7. Your Own Country Home
Every president since Franklin Roosevelt has enjoyed his own retreat of solitude — Camp David. Located deep in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Md., the camp serves as the president’s country home.
Although it is charming, it’s not exactly rustic. Amenities include a full gym, swimming pool, executive board rooms and an aircraft hangar. According to the book “The $1.4 Billion Man: Costs of the Obama White House,” every night the president spends at Camp David costs $711,000.
8. Hired Help Is Always Around to Serve You
The White House is home to nearly 100 permanent residence staffers. The private army of servants includes maids, cooks, butlers and a head housekeeper. But it doesn’t stop there. Among the other permanent staffers on the payroll are full-time plumbers, valets, groundskeepers, engineers and florists.
9. A Top-Notch Security Detail Watches Over You
When you see the president, you might notice intense-looking, hyper-alert men and women with earpieces following behind. That’s the Secret Service, the agency tasked with protecting the president — even at the cost of their own lives.
Well-armed, trained and prepared, members of the Secret Service are more than bodyguards. They conduct advance work, threat assessments, countersurveillance and airspace security. Ex-presidents get Secret Service protection for life, and their children are protected until the kids turn 16. The agency’s 2016 budget was $2.2 billion.
10. You Get Buff With a Personal Trainer
The White House is home to a full fitness center. The president doesn’t have to wander around alone wondering how to work all those exercise machines either. Instead, the job comes with a personal trainer, which President Obama is known to utilize extensively. Information on the current presidential trainer’s rate is not available, but according to Angie’s List, the average trainer charges between $80 and $125 per hour.
11. An Executive Chef Cooks Your Meals
Every president since John F. Kennedy has dined in style thanks to a White House executive chef. In 2005, Cristeta Comerford became the first woman appointed to the position when she was hired by first lady Laura Bush. She still remains at the post after being reappointed by first lady Michelle Obama, who was inspired by Comerford’s passion for healthy food.
It is estimated the White House executive chef earns under $100,000 a year, which the CulinarySchools.org website deems to be “surprisingly modest.”
12. Your House Has a Movie Theater
Presidents who happen to be movie buffs are in luck: The White House is home to a 42-seat tiered theater where the presidential family and guests can watch movies, sports and television. President Franklin Roosevelt converted the East Terrace cloakroom into a theater so he could watch newsreels from World War II.
13. Fresh Vegetables Are Available
In 2009, Michelle Obama began work on what would become a massive White House garden. The fruits of her labor appear on the White House menu. They feed foreign dignitaries and support charities and food banks far and wide.
The garden — which the first lady started with just $200 in supplies — recently was the beneficiary of a $2.5 million donation to ensure taxpayers won’t be burdened with maintenance and upkeep.
14. Visitors Enjoy a Fantastic Guest House
When heads of state and other dignitaries visit the U.S., the president puts them up in the Blair House. At 60,600 square feet, Blair House consists of four integrated townhomes with a combined 120 rooms and 18 full-time employees.
15. You Get a State Funeral
Presidents receive the office’s final perk when they die and are buried with the pomp and circumstance of a state funeral, which is reserved for heads of state.
The seven-to-10-day, three-stage event comes with full military honors, including Guard of Honor, military escort for the immediate family, armed forces body bearers, military flyover and a 21-gun salute. When President Ronald Reagan died in 2004, his mahogany casket alone cost $14,000.
Written by Andrew Lisa
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