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Former presidents cost $3.7 million during ’12

– Being the leader of the free world is an expensive proposition. And the costs don’t stop once you leave the White House.

The government spent nearly $3.7 million on former presidents in 2012, according to an analysis just released by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. That covers a pension, compensation and benefits for office staff, and the government also picks up the tab for other costs like travel, office space and postage.

The costliest former president? George W. Bush, who clocked in last year at just over $1.3 million.

The $3.7 million that taxpayers shelled out in 2012 is about $200,000 less than in 2011. It’s a drop in the bucket compared with the trillions the federal government spends each year.

Under the Former Presidents Act, previous inhabitants of the Oval Office are given an annual pension equivalent to a Cabinet secretary’s salary – about $200,000 last year – plus $96,000 a year for a small office staff. Funding for ex-presidents under the Former Presidents Act dates back to 1958, when Congress created the program largely in response to President Harry Truman’s post-White House financial woes, the Congressional Research Service said.

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