In 1789, George Washington got paid $25,000 a year. In 1873, that went up to $50,000 for the second term of Ulysses S. Grant. There is no mechanism to automatically adjust the president's salary; Congress must pass legislation authorizing it. The latest adjustment, which goes into effect this year, is the 7th.

Currently, the president receives a salary of $400,000 a year as president, which, while generous, isn't even close to today's top executives salaries. Plus, the president gets a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 nontaxable travel account, and $19,000 for entertainment.

Today, because of the cost of living and other factors, President Obama's annual adjusted gross income has dropped steadily since he entered office. The fortunes of an American president appear tied to the economy of the time. As the focus of the economy changes, so will the way U.S. presidents made their money.

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