The president of the United States is now paid $400,000 a year. Unlike members of Congress, the president does not get an automatic pay raise or cost-of-living adjustment every year.
The president’s salary is set by Congress, and lawmakers have seen fit to raise the pay for the most powerful position in the world precisely five times since George Washington became the nation’s first president in 1789.
The most recent salary hike was effective in 2001 when President George W. Bush became the first commander-in-chief to make the $400,000 salary—double the amount his predecessor, President Bill Clinton, was paid a year.
Presidents don’t have the power to raise their own salaries. In fact, this point is specifically covered in the U.S. Constitution which states that:
“The President shall, at stated times receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected …”
Washington tried to decline his presidential salary, but since it is required by the Constitution he accepted it. Likewise, President Donald Trump pledged to work without a salary, but since he was legally required to accept it has instead given the quarterly pay back to various government agencies since he has been in office.
Here’s a look at presidential salaries through the years, a list of which presidents were paid how much, starting with the current rate of pay.
President George W. Bush, who took office in January of 2001, became the first president to earn the current pay rate of $400,000. The president’s $400,000 salary took effect in 2001 and remains the current pay rate for president.
The current president also gets a budget of $50,000 for expenses, $100,000 for a nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment.
Receiving the $400,000 salary were:
- George W. Bush
- Barack Obama
- Donald Trump
- Joe Biden
President Richard Nixon, who took office in January of 1969, was the first president to be paid $200,000 a year for his service in the White House. The salary of $200,000 for president went into effect in 1969 and continued through 2000. That would be $1.4 million in 2019 dollars the first year the pay went into effect.
Earning $200,000 a year were:
- Richard Nixon
- Gerald Ford
- Jimmy Carter
- Ronald Reagan
- George H.W. Bush
- Bill Clinton
President Harry Truman began his second term in 1949 by getting a 33 percent pay raise. He was the first president to earn six figures, going from the $75,000 that presidents had been paid since 1909 to $100,000. The salary of $100,000 went into effect in 1949 and continued through 1969. The 1949 pay would be $1.08 million in 2019 dollars.
Earning $100,000 a year were:
- Harry Truman
- Dwight Eisenhower
- John F. Kennedy
- Lyndon Johnson