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Why not a 100% tax on politician's book royalties?

From The Washington Times:

As he empathized with recession-weary Americans, President Obama arranged in the days just before he took office to secure a $500,000 advance for a children's book project, a disclosure report shows.

The terms of the book deal were disclosed in a Senate financial disclosure report filed Tuesday.

Analysts say there don't appear to be any rules that would bar such transactions after a president takes office, but it's unclear whether an incoming or sitting president has ever signed a book deal upon entering the White House.


Mr. Obama approved the $500,000 advance on Jan. 15. The advance is against royalties under a deal with Crown Publishing, a division of Random House. The project calls for an abridged version of his book "Dreams From My Father" for middle-school-aged children, according to the disclosure.

A White House aide said that the deal had been in the works for weeks and that the publisher will abridge the book. The aide, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said the publisher will get half of the money while Mr. Obama will sign off on the final version.


Just as in 2007, public interest in Barack Obama the presidential candidate helped Barack Obama the author earn lots of money from book royalties, according to his latest financial disclosure report.

Last year, Mr. Obama reported earning $949,910 in royalties from "Dreams From My Father" and $1.5 million from "The Audacity of Hope." In 2007, he reported $3.2 million in book royalties from Random House.

Mr. Obama's books have helped boost the Obamas' income considerably in recent years, from about $1 million in 2006 to more than $4 million in 2007.

After getting permission from the Senate ethics committee in January 2005, Mr. Obama agreed to a $1.9 million advance for two nonfiction books and a children's book, of which $200,000 was to be donated to charity, according to his 2007 financial disclosure. (emphasis added)

Now, $500,000 seems measly compared to the combined $20 million in royalty advances that was paid to the Clintons for their respective memoirs, or the $4.5 million paid to Newt Gingrich in 1995 that so enraged Democrats that the House of Representatives amended its ethics rules to prohibit House members from receiving royalty advances from book publishers.

But in an era where Big Government seems to relish grilling Big Business over things like salaries, bonuses, and profits, doesn't President Obama's new book deal deserve scrutiny as well? After all, a royalty advance is really nothing more than a retention bonus, so to speak, used by a publisher to entice an author into joining, then remaining with, that publisher. What will President Obama be doing -- instead of the job we elected him to do -- in order to justify that compensation? And wasn't payment for a "children's book" already included in that $1.9 million advance that President Obama received in 2005?

Interestingly, President Obama's only contractual obligation seems to be signing off on the abridged manuscript, which will be prepared by his publisher. Considering how tired and overwhelmed he is these days, I wouldn't be surprised if even the simple task of reviewing the manuscript was delegated to someone else in the White House. Half a million dollars for a signature. Where do I sign up?

On the other hand, President Obama is an author, and authors are due royalties, aren't they? Random House hasn't been bailed out by the government, so why should anyone care what they pay their authors? Partisan politics aside, we usually don't. But in this case, the author is the newly-elected President of the United States. As a public servant, what he does is absolutely our business.

About a year ago, Congress grilled "Big Oil" executives about salaries, bonuses, and profits in the oil industry as Americans were struggling to come to grips with rapidly rising fuel prices. "Big Oil" had not been bailed out by the government, nor were they in control of the over-inflated prices of crude oil futures, yet Congressional Democrats felt compelled to conduct a show trial for oil company executives and then threaten them with windfall profits taxes. Congress has no qualms about attacking portions of the private sector when it believes that it can turn such populism into votes at the ballot box. Likewise, We The People ought to be afforded a similar opportunity to hold our elected officials accountable.

And since threats of confiscatory government taxes on "unmerited" or "windfall" income seem to be all the rage these days, I am simply proposing that all elected government officials who write books should be taxed at 100% on any royalty advances that they receive while in office -- while they are employed by us as our public servants. That's only "fair" ... isn't it?


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Comments (28)

Wow! Chalk up another "firs... (Below threshold)

Wow! Chalk up another "first" for the most historic presidency evah!

What a dumb asshole we have... (Below threshold)

What a dumb asshole we have as Betrayer-In-Chief...

Don't forget this asshole wants an organization under Federal investigation to help with the census...another first...crooked asshole...

How a parent with kids in p... (Below threshold)

How a parent with kids in private school thinks:

X 60%
=$300,000 After Tax

Sidwell Friends School Tuition $35,000 (including other expenses on top of tuition)

2 students X $35,000 = $70,000

$70,000 X 4 Years = $280,000

Yep, close enough.....

I wonder if Jay L has the c... (Below threshold)

I wonder if Jay L has the cajones to ask BO about his book royalties on camera?

Mr. Bush has signed a $7 mi... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Mr. Bush has signed a $7 million dollar book deal that was announced this morning.

And here I thought he was t... (Below threshold)

And here I thought he was too busy running the Office of President-Elect to even think about completing a book deal.

And Bush is OUT of office, ... (Below threshold)

And Bush is OUT of office, Paul - least, he was the last I checked.

Can't say I really blame Obama for cashing in while he can - I think his chances of getting any sort of book deal (aside from "How I Bankrupted The US in 90 Days") will be pretty slim once he leaves office.

Bush signs a book deal AFTE... (Below threshold)

Bush signs a book deal AFTER he's out of office. Obama signs one coming in. Yeah, Paul, their both the SAME situation. Sure. Right.

Perhaps President Obama is planning on SHARING that 1/2 million with those left fortunate.


I think the Political Write... (Below threshold)

I think the Political Writers Tax should be collected at 75% (not 100%), the monies could be used to further our Public Library system. In turn we can use the Public Library to stop buying these books and reduce the publishers profits lowering the advance fees they pay.
Let them have the 25% for there work and insite, and so that it's not an unfair tax. After all are government employees and don't make that much. Hahaha

This is one of the stupides... (Below threshold)

This is one of the stupidest threads I've ever seen.

The limit on banker's bonuses is because the gov't gave BILLLIONS OF DOLLARS to the banks. The gov't dollars should NOT be used to pad the already wealthy banking executives pay when their companies have performed so poorly.

Likewise, I don't see Obama getting BILLIONS in Gov't money for screwing up the financial system, like the bankers did.

Seriously, could your argument for a 100% tax be any more moronic?

Tax Him at the same rate He... (Below threshold)

Tax Him at the same rate He wants to tax all of us. 100% of all He owns.

Likewise, I don't see Ob... (Below threshold)

Likewise, I don't see Obama getting BILLIONS in Gov't money for screwing up the financial system, like the bankers did.

Just because he's getting less money for screwing things up doesn't make it any better.

What you fail (or refuse) t... (Below threshold)

What you fail (or refuse) to recognize, atepesm, is that the bonuses were INCLUDED in the "bailout" bill that was too important to be allowed to fail. Senator Chris Dodd (Democrat, Connecticut) put the line in the bill to allow for the bonuses. This moronic thread is merely using absurdity to point out the absurd. The absurdity is the abject hypocrisy being displayed by elected officials regarding these bonuses.

"The limit on banker's b... (Below threshold)

"The limit on banker's bonuses is because the gov't gave BILLLIONS OF DOLLARS to the banks. The gov't dollars should NOT be used to pad the already wealthy banking executives pay when their companies have performed so poorly"

Hey dumbass, these were RETENTION bonuses, not performance bonuses.

I must say excellent post. ... (Below threshold)

I must say excellent post. In fact so far this is one of your best, and the correlation between the Big Oil and Obama is amazing!

Being POTUS isn't enough fo... (Below threshold)

Being POTUS isn't enough for BHO. Now he wants to be First Lady, too.

1. First Ladies have "written" books while in the White House, but they donate the proceeds to charity. What charity is our POTUS donating to?

2. First Ladies are usually responsible for "culture" issuses. This POTUS has appointed a "Minister of Culture."

Likewise, I don't see Ob... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Likewise, I don't see Obama getting BILLIONS in Gov't money for screwing up the financial system,

You sewed your eyes shut, didn't you? Obama got billions from Congress to give to his graft-buddies, and he's certainly screweing up the financial system.

Maybe it's time to bring up... (Below threshold)

Maybe it's time to bring up Michelle's pay raise from $100K a year to $300K a year, AFTER hubby manged to get a ONE MILLION earmark for her employer. Talk about return on investment.

Oh, sorry, The One can do no wrong.

All I see are haters that h... (Below threshold)

All I see are haters that have very little understanding of the US's systemic financial system woes and the what went down.

I see all these whiners about the tax policy and I just think these anti-Americans are the same people that screw our Firemen, Policemen, and teachers from making a respectable earning. A failure to invest in America will only result in greater unrest. Setting the tax policy appropriately is paramount to having the US recover from Bush's draconian rule (Talk about a guy that gave away billions of dollars to his buddies . . . Hey, have you found any weapons of Mass Destruction yet? ).

So, do you think leading free-marketeer and fiscal conservative Henry Paulson, ex-ceo of Goldman Sachs is to blame? Since he pushed through the bank bailout? You blame Obama, but the policy was put together by Paulson and Bernanke, the leading historian on the Great Depression. Hmm, who's right you or them? Hmm. Tell me about your PhD thesis based on Great Depression era research? Oh no that wasn't you? That was Bernanke?

Likewise, your understanding of US tax policy is not based in reality. Rolling back the US tax policy to pre-Bush era makes sense since the US had a surplus and ran a non-record setting deficit like the Bush boneheads did. The growing discrepancy between extreme wealthy and the average American is what leads to political instability. And that only adds to market turbulence. It seems obvious what needs to be done, and yet boneheads are out there rambling in complete ignorance of the situation.

What is going on has historical precedence. The problem is you get idiot blog posts like this that have zero understanding of the greater underlying concepts that are (systemic financial system failure) being dealt with.

Also, why would a guy like Warren Buffet come out and say the rich need to be taxed more? Because he recognized that people like his secretary were being taxed harder than he was. (For the record, he pointed out that his effective tax was only $0.17 on the dollar, much less (even half) of what 99% of what Americans pay).

Maybe Obama, should just do everything out of budget like Bush did. Or maybe we'd be better off with a President that LIES to the people about Weapons of Mass destruction just to start a war.

We've got an honest hardworking President and all you people can do is bitch in complete ignorance. What sad bunch of posters you are.

I guess I am just a whiner,... (Below threshold)

I guess I am just a whiner, then. But, please, tell me how is it anti-American to want to keep more of the money that I earn? I am a police officer; my wife is a school teacher. We both entered our respective professions knowing and understanding that we would never become rich doing what we do. And I absolutely refute your premise that paying taxes is "investing in America". The redistribution of wealth does not invest in anything; it merely intensifies and plays upon this growing discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor. If Warren Buffet thinks the rich should pay more taxes, then let him put his money where his mouth is (pun intended) and take his billions out of tax shelters and overseas investments, and pay more. There is nothing that prevents him from doing so; in fact, there is a place on the W-4 form which allows you to add an additional amount to be deducted from your withholding. Ok, Paulson and Bernanke cowrote this stimulus bill. But, as Teddy Roosevelt said- "the buck stops here". It is now Obama's bill. Which brings me to another amusing point; you say dont blame Obama for the stimulus because he did not write it; fair enough. But then, how can you turn around and blame Bush for going to war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction, when Bush was acting on information received from intelligence experts? Just like Obama, Bush was acting upon information he received from others. And how hardworking can this guy be, when he has time to appear on variety shows, fill out NCAA tournament brackets, and throw parties?

hooson - "Mr. Bush has ... (Below threshold)

hooson - "Mr. Bush has signed a $7 million dollar book deal that was announced this morning."

I KNEW IT! Looking at how the public debt has exploded since Jan 20th 2009 I just knew Bush was still in office. Thanks hooson for making that confirmation.

(sarcasm tags not optional)

Atepesm, do you have a PhD ... (Below threshold)

Atepesm, do you have a PhD thesis in economics, foreign affairs, or tax policy? Yeah, thought so...

Precedence? Yeah, first president who nominated a tax-cheat to the treasury who helped screw up AIG...nevermind pocketing AIG campaign cash. Actually reinforced the premise that government involvement to "fix" things only screws it up worse.

First president who actually thought it was a good idea for veterans to pay their own medical expenses, because he couldn't find pork to cut in his spending bills...what an asshole.

Yeah, you can believe that he is "honest" and "hardworking" all you want. Just keep sitting on you lazy ass wishing someone will give you money. Hey, maybe you can take your meager earnings and place some bets on Obama's bracket picks. What the fuck is he doing making basketball picks when the economy is in trouble? Leno? During a time of economic crisis? Yeah, REAL hard work going on there...

No, you keep on with your blind support for this asshole Betrayer-in-Chief.

atepesm - "Rolling back... (Below threshold)

atepesm - "Rolling back the US tax policy to pre-Bush era makes sense since the US had a surplus and ran a non-record setting deficit like the Bush boneheads did."

Love that myth don't you? Might I suggest you try a search of reality.

What you will clearly find is in no year did the national debt go down, nor did Clinton leave President Bush with a surplus that Bush subsequently turned into a deficit.

Yes, the deficit was almost eliminated in FY2000 (ending in September 2000 with a deficit of "only" $17.9 billion), but it never reached zero--let alone a positive surplus number.

And Clinton's last budget proposal for FY2001, which ended in September 2001, generated a $133.29 billion deficit. The growing deficits started in the year of the last Clinton budget, not in the first year of the Bush administration.

"We've got an honest har... (Below threshold)

"We've got an honest hardworking President and all you people can do is bitch in complete ignorance. What sad bunch of posters you are"

When did you find out about the AIG bonuses Mr. President?.......hmmmm that doesn't jibe with what your peeps said...ohhh and just how long WERE you in the church of Reverend "Hate and Brimstone" and didn't know he was preaching hate of whitey (please see the back desk after the service to buy your CDs of numerous past preachings). And he had NO connections to ACORN whatsoever.....

It makes me tired watching him work so hard. Press conference after press conference. Townhall meetings as far as the eye can see. Busting your butt picking out DVDs for the nearly blind leader of our staunchest ally. Burning that midnight oil so much he mispronounces the name of another staunch ally.

Honest and Hardworking..................lolololol

Re #19.Where to st... (Below threshold)

Re #19.

Where to start...
Rolling back the US tax policy to pre-Bush era makes sense since the US had a surplus and ran a non-record setting deficit like the Bush boneheads did

Correlation != causation.

Simple question. Can you explain what affect the stock market bubble (generated by the Fed's liquidity bubble) of the late 90's had on tax receipts ?

Oh and on topic, I do think... (Below threshold)

Oh and on topic, I do think the President of the United State of America would better serve his country by not engaging in side jobs while in office.

#19: "Maybe Obama, should j... (Below threshold)

#19: "Maybe Obama, should just do everything out of budget like Bush did. Or maybe we'd be better off with a President that LIES to the people about Weapons of Mass destruction just to start a war".

Smoking you're underwear again huh?

I can't take it anymore! D... (Below threshold)

I can't take it anymore! Democrats whine about the "excessive" earnings of the high achievers in this country, but when they are elected to high office, they use the office as a stepping stone on their quest to make seven figure salaries.

They say the key to a more just society is more money in the U.S. Treasury. As many others have said, I say "put your money where your mouth is." There's hardly a liberal who reads this blog who couldn't afford to send a FEW extra dollars to the U.S. Treasury on a volutary basis. Go ahead Mr. Liberal, give until it hurts. Or don't...just send $10 extra dollars to Uncle Sam. Then you'd actually have some credibililty. But you won't do will you? You won't say it, but your actions speak louder than words, and you know that an extra dollar in the hands of Government, even with your democrat buddies in charge, is a bad investment!

And don't give the this faux outrage about Bush's 7 figure deal. Republicans aren't the ones preaching against productivity and wealth.






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