White House Moving Day Tab: $8.9 Million

When the U-Haul pulls up to the North Portico of the White House on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2008, that ringing sound from the neighboring Treasury Department will be the national cash register keying up the whopping tab for swapping out presidents. Some $8.9 million to be exact, not to mention the additional costs of the soon-to-be former President Bush, like U.S. Secret Service protection. "Democracy ain't cheap," says a federal budget official.

The Feds have set aside $8.52 million for the transition, and it breaks down this way: $1 million to brief and orient the incoming president's top team members; $5.3 million for the new president to spend on his transition; and $2.22 million to move Bush's team out. Plus, as a new retiree, Bush will get $366,000 in pay and benefits, including a $191,300 pension.

While Bush will be the newest member of the former presidents club, he won't be the most expensive when he arrives in Texas. Bill Clinton should keep that title, even if he goes through with a rumored move of his offices from Harlem to Georgetown. Bubba gets $1.19 million annually, including $201,000 in retirement pay and health bennies, $544,000 for office rent, and $79,000 for his phone bill. Bush's dad, headquartered in Houston, gets $786,000.

By Paul Bedard