Skip to main content

Top Dollar

May 2024
1min read

I take exception with Bernard Weisberger’s argument (“In the News,” May/June) that recently retired Presidents are “cashing in” on the Presidency. He highlights President Reagan’s speaking fees and multi-million-dollar book contracts as examples.

I feel it would be more accurate to view such arrangements as a form of deferred compensation. A President’s annual earnings total about two hundred thousand dollars, a paltry amount compared with the sums doled out to top executives in the private sector. In addition a President has no way of knowing what he will earn upon leaving office. An executive’s severance pay is negotiated when he is hired.

As the nation’s chief executive officer, a President does not have his deferred compensation determined by formula. If he is perceived as a successful President, as President Reagan is, he will command top dollar for both speaking fees and book contracts. If, on the other hand, he is seen as unsuccessful, his compensation will be less.

Weisberger does President Reagan an injustice by suggesting he is “cashing in” on the Presidency. After seventy-eight years Ronald Reagan is, quite properly, cashing in on Ronald Reagan.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this magazine of trusted historical writing, now in its 75th year, and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.