Lavish Obama Family Travels Under Scrutiny

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Transparency! It is easy for someone who is not in charge to point to how poorly those in control are informing the people. Barack Obama promised unparalleled transparency, taking a shot at the Bush Administration. (see the video at the end of this story)

The only transparency the Obama administration has is that we can see straight through their words, but no further, because they hide much more than any other administration has.

Of all the lack of transparency throughout this administration, which serves to show how much they have to hide, presidential vacation spending is one of the most visibly irritating expenses. Not visible because we can see the money being frittered away, but because we can see the happy smiling faces as they board, the planes taking off, the smiling faces and the waves as they land, and the entourages everywhere.

The regularity of the Obama family vacation spending makes us think of a kid who walks into a candy shop where he thinks everything is free.

And so it is free – they didn’t pay anything out of their own pockets – US taxpayers did.

President Barack Obama and his family have traveled abroad and within the US, seemingly at will and with no cares about what it costs taxpayers.

Judicial Watch often uses the Freedom of Information Act to access information that we were promised would be open to all. They recently looked at the cost of each of these trips they chose to break down.

The results were jaw-dropping.

In one example, just last summer, the president, first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, traveled to Africa, and then they flew to Honolulu over the winter. Of all the expenses, the cost of Air Force One is the one that takes your breath away. On its own, the cost was $15,888,585.

Judicial Watch shows how the almost $16 million broke down. The African flights in 2012 and 2013 came to 35.5 hours at a cost of $228,288 an hour, totaling $8,104,224. In addition, the family’s flights on Air Force One for their 17-day Christmas vacation to Honolulu between December 2013 and January 2014 totaled 36.9 hours at a cost of $210,877 an hour, adding up to $7,781,361.

Thanks to Judicial Watch, we can now see this. Without them, it would still be hidden. It isn’t anything like the transparency that Obama promised.

But that isn’t all, there is more!

Last year’s family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, a much shorter flight, the total came to $1,164,268.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton spoke about Obama’s lack of transparency. “The costs to taxpayers of President Obama’s travel, especially his luxury vacation travel, are beyond the pale. And the secrecy surrounding these costs shows that Obama’s vows of transparency are rubbish.”

Michelle Obama just completed a trip to China. Not only did she take her two daughters, her mother was also there, and the trip was listed as “part tourism and part diplomacy.”

U.S. taxpayers picked up these costs too, but so far, the information has not been released.

Thanks for the transparency, Mr. Obama.

Last year Vice President Joe Biden planned a trip to China, and the cost was deemed “prohibitive.”

It is not just the enormous expense of sending Michelle Obama, the kids and sometimes the mother on these trips that is galling.

The cost of sending the Obama family, not including Barack, plus his mother-in-law, does not end with the cost of Air Force One. Michelle Obama, her mother, and the two children stayed at the five-star Beijing Westin Chaoyang Hotel, in the presidential suite, of course. The price tag for that suite is around $8,400 per night.

Admittedly, there was some diplomatic value, there usually is, but what benefit is there from these trips?

Michelle Obama “always dreamed as a child of going to China,” according to media reports. Well, now she has. Unfortunately, she went on the taxpayer’s dime with no legitimate agenda that benefited the American people.

The same can be said about trips to Spain, Aspen, and other places.

Don’t you love the transparency?

Where are the pre-trip agendas and the post-trip reports?

Judicial Watch aren’t the only ones concerned about these exorbitant costs to taxpayers.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation also looked into these trips. They reported that President Obama spent more time traveling internationally than any other modern president, and the expense to taxpayers was eye-popping.

The report says that including the five-day, five-country trip to Europe and the Middle East that just completed, Obama went on 31 foreign trips totaling 119 days since taking office in 2009.

It is hard to tell which of these trips were necessary.

The Europe/Saudi Arabia trip only just completed, so of course the cost is as yet unknown, but when you consider that 900 staff and security personnel, plus 45 vehicles and three cargo planes were mobilized, you can guess that it won’t be equivalent to a trip to the corner grocery store.

The president holds our most important office, but in this day and age, trips come at an enormous cost, because of all the logistics including massive security. Face-to-face communication is a good thing, but the question is, how many of those trips actually translated into gains for the country, and how hard did it hit the taxpayer’s wallet.

We already know that Mr. Obama knows what Skype is, and how much more economical it is than flights on Air Force One. What we don’t know is why he thinks he needs to play so much golf and send his family on taxpayer-funded vacations. It feels like he is like a public servant, out to get as much as he can in the time available.

Of course, we know there are also huge ongoing perks for a former two-term president, so it is never going to stop.

Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. His BS in journalism from University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.

Dwight has 30 years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. A native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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