BusinessWilliam Reed

BUSINESS EXCHANGE: Are Obamas Among Top One Percent?

Is he one of us, or is he one of them? There are valid reasons to be concerned about a president’s earnings.

Where a former commander in chief earns income and the company they choose to keep after serving could speak to their basic values in a way policies and legislation don’t.

Politics have helped Barack and Michelle Obama to accumulate a chunk of cash. The 44th president’s post-presidency is a work in progress, but his actions lead us to believe him to be one of America’s “rich and privileged.” According to American University’s business school, the Obamas stand to earn as much as $25 million the next 15 years. The Obamas will be engaging in a variety of activities that will make them a lot of money. A major agency is scheduling their delivering speeches for $250,000 and more.

Beyond race, brother Barack and sister Michelle are part of a succession of modern presidents that earn more after they leave office. The former POTUS and FLOTUS have signed book deals worth $64 million. Barack is also raising money for their foundation to build a $500 million library and presidential center at the University of Chicago, and an institute at Columbia University, his alma mater.

When Barack joined the U.S. Senate in 2005, he was a 43-year old former law professor making $85,000 a year. In the 12 years since he won the White House, the Obamas made $20 million. Obama has earned $15.6 million as an author since arriving in Washington. He has made $8.8 million from his bestseller “Audacity of Hope” and children’s book “Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters.” Sales of his memoir, “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” also took off once he landed in the nation’s capital, resulting in a $6.8 million windfall.

The Obamas provide much to admire: handsome, an exceptional resume and attractive family, and a place as the messianic fulfillment of the 1960s’ civil rights movement. The “upwardly mobile” blacks were worth about $1.3 million when they entered the White House. They made an average of $2.4 million annually over the next four years.

Mr. Obama has made $3.7 million in government salaries and is receiving an annual pension of over $200,000. Both Barack and Michelle are releasing White House experiences autobiographies that could rake in $20 million to $45 million for them — with the potential for Barack’s to become the most valuable presidential memoir of all time. The bulk of Obama’s assets are in mutual funds with JPMorgan and Vanguard. He also holds U.S. Treasury bills and notes valued $500,000 to $1 million. The former first family owns a house in Chicago valued at $1.5 million. They are renting a 8,200-square-foot, nine-bedroom, $6 million mansion in Washington at $22,000 a month.

Though their total wealth is dwarfed by that of Obama’s successor, Donald Trump — the richest president in U.S. history with an estimated worth of $3.7 billion — the former first family are doing just fine for themselves.

Mr. Obama raked in $400,000 for a 90-minute interview where he spoke with a presidential historian on things like income inequality and civic engagement. “Barry” will earn another $400,000 for a 60-minute speech during a conference hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald investment firm.

But as well as the Obamas have done personally, the country’s first black president never pursued policies toward closing the racial wealth gap. So when some Americans see Obama accepting $400,000 speeches from Wall Street, signing book deals worth $64 million and vacationing with billionaires off the coast of Tahiti in a $300 million yacht, they make out he’s living his post-presidential life like an elitist one percenter. Obama resonated among blacks, but did and said little about racial inequity and justice.

It’s unlikely that the Obamas will say anything about black reparations to his current buddies. The smooth-talking Democratic candidate who in 2008 slammed Wall Street’s greed now unabashedly feeds at their corporate trough.

William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.

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William Reed

William Reed is President and Chief Executive Officer of Black Press International. He has been a Media Entrepreneur for over two decades. A well-trained marketing and communications professional, Reed has a national reputation for his expert writing, speaking, organizational, research, management and motivation abilities, along with strong managerial, presentation and sales skills.

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