In an interview with conservative radio host Neal Boortz, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney floated an unusual profit-making opportunity for himself if he becomes president — paying himself a higher salary if he performs well in the White House.
In Romney’s words, “I do believe in linking my incentives and my commitment to the accomplishment of specific goals . . . . I wish we had that happen throughout government — where people recognized they are not going to get rewarded in substantial ways unless they are able to achieve the objectives that they were elected to carry out.”
This is not a new proposal, however. It was actually proposed in 1992 by billionaire presidential candidate Ross Perot — or at least by someone pretending to be Perot. In a 1992 Saturday Night Live skit, Perot impersonator Dana Carvey outlined something very similar to the Romney plan for presidential compensation:
“If I’m President, we get 0% growth, you don’t pay me nothing. 1% growth? Hell, a chimpanzee could run this country and make 1% growth! So you don’t pay me dime one. Got my own plane, don’t need Air Force One. State Dinners? I’ll pay it, it’s nothing to me, sand on the beach! Now, don’t worry about ol’ Ross Perot, I got $3 billion back at home.
Now, here’s the deal. Here’s what I’m trying to tell you. 3% growth in our economy, $120 billion growth in our GNP – I get a billion dollars. Now, think about it, that’s a bargain! You’re up $119 billion. I’m telling you, 2.99% growth, I don’t see a penny, not one red cent. But don’t feel sorry for me – I got $3 billion. I’m gonna be fine.
Now, this here’s a business proposition. Now, see, 4% growth, you pay me $20 billion. The way I see it, you’re ahead $140 billion, see? Now, this ain’t no golden parachute, this isn’t the President GM giving himself a big bonus when the company’s losing money sending jobs to Mexico. I get my money if and when you get yours.”
Now, 5% growth, I get $50 billion. Everybody’s happy, see?
Romney did not elaborate on whether his incentive structure for himself would include the kind of outlandish payouts Fake Ross Perot called for in his very similar plan.
Nevertheless, the very idea of incentive pay for the president is a little bizarre. The President of the United States is the nation’s top public service position. If a person needs a financial incentive in order to be motivated to do the job well, they might want to consider working in private equity instead.