Obama donates US$2 million to the South Side; Congress may go after his pension

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Barack and Malia Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama congratulates his daughter Malia on her birthday during the Independence Day celebration at the White House in Washington U.S., July 4, 2016. Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Former United States President Barack Obama announces that he and his wife former FLOTUS Michelle Obama will personally donate US$2 million (AU$3 million) to their summer jobs programs in the South Side of Chicago.  The announcement comes after he faces criticisms for accepting $US400,000 ($AU533, 524) from a Wall Street bank for a speech.

"We can't afford to wait four years to start working together, and so what Michelle and I want to do is start now," the former POTUS said.  The Obamas join Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for a community event and a roundtable discussion about the Obama Presidential Center.

CNN reports that the centre will be developed in Chicago's Jackson Park. The former POTUS forecasts that the Obama Presidential Center itself will soon provide 200-300 jobs while studies suggest it will create 1,400-1,500 for its construction and another 2,000 in the overall economic development of the project.

Obama shares they want the centre to be alive as it becomes a hub for activities for the community, for the city and for the country. He shows the centre’s conceptual designs and it will serve as the headquarters of the Obama Foundation.

As he delivered the announcement, the former POTUS was nostalgic about the South Side, saying the best things that happened in his life took place in the community. He said that included the friends he has made, the beginning of his journey in public service and the values he learned.

Last month, Democratic political consultant Hank Sheinkopf slammed Obama over a paid speech for a Wall Street bank.  “Is there an irony here because he spoke incessantly about the income gap and is now earning from those same people he criticized? Yes it is,” the consultant told the New York Post.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that Obama's paid speech may prompt Congress to go after his pension.  Obama himself vetoed a bill last year, which could hold back the pensions of former presidents if they took outside income of $400,000 or more.

Sponsors of the bill would reportedly introduce it again, hoping that US President Donald Trump will approve it. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, sponsor of the 2016 bill, says the “Obama hypocrisy on this issue is revealing.”

Chaffetz says he will re-introduce the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act this month along with Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Trump’s position on the legislation remained unclear, but during the 2016 presidential elections, he said he would take a closer look at pensions for elected officials.


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