As for the president, his salary, $400,000, has served as a kind of benchmark for rethinking corporate salaries. (We’ll address his perks in a moment.) Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri wanted to cap salaries of bailout-receiving CEOs at that rate, rather than at the $500,000 arrived at in the stimulus package. Suppose, a year from now, we’re all wearing barrels and selling apples on street corners because the bill accomplished absolutely nothing other than saddling our children with more ruinous debt? Wouldn’t it then be condign to invoke a performance clause?
If a president makes things worse, is he worth $400,000 a year? While we’re at it, how much does it cost to operate Air Force One per hour? And Camp David—how much is that tab per weekend? Or that hothouse Oval Office that Mr. Axelrod cheerfully volunteered “you could grow orchids in”—why should the shareholder, namely the US taxpayer, continue to subsidize a West Wing sauna when we’re being told to turn down our thermostats?