The nation’s 44th President of the United States, his immediate family, relatives, distant relatives, personal friends and hangers-on are enjoying their eighth and final Hawaiian government-funded vacation compliments of the American taxpayer. Cost estimates for these extravagant travel arrangements are mind-boggling.
New estimates put the price tag of the Obamas’ annual trip at $3.5 million or more. A more clear and shocking estimate of the the first family’s personal or largely personal travel during the last eight years comes to $85 million. That could rise to $90 million after additional records are released, according to the conservative group Judicial Watch, based on federal government records.
Hawaii is approximately an 11,000 mile round-trip vacation. The logistics to provide for Air Force One and other government planes as well as helicopters, cargo planes, armored cars, Secret Service protection and advance, communications and medical staff has led Judicial Watch to push for less personal travel. For instance, Christmas in nearby Camp David, Maryland would be pennies on the dollar compared to faraway Hawaii.
It will be interesting to see how often Barack Obama travels to such exotic and expensive paradises taking all the distant relatives and “convenient friends” after he leaves office. It is a certainty they will be reaching for their own wallets for airfare and accommodations. It is a classic example of loading up the expense account and taking advantage of the “company,” aka American people.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said, “The Secret Service and the Air Force are being abused by unnecessary travel. Unnecessary presidential travel for fundraising and luxury vacations on the taxpayers’ dime would be a good target for reform for the incoming Trump administration.”
Ironically, President-elect Donald Trump prefers to vacation at his own properties. He is spending Christmas at Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, where he stayed for Thanksgiving. After the election, he spent a weekend at Bedminster golf club in New Jersey, which has fueled speculation that it could be Trump’s Camp David. Cost of the Trump accommodations; zero.
It should be noted that “Camp David” was a compound in the nearby Maryland countryside created by then-resident Dwight Eisenhower and named after his grandchild, David. It was specifically built to be a nearby retreat for the president, his family and visiting dignitaries.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz describes Hawaii as a special place for the president and one of his favorite places to visit. The first family enjoys vacationing in Hawaii for the same reasons many others do, including scenic views, beautiful beaches, a relaxed pace, and great restaurants. Unfortunately, the logistics are astronomical in terms of government waste and government man hours to execute the awesome details.
It has been noted by government watchdogs that President George W. Bush saved money because his vacation homes, including Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, were modified one time, some at a cost to taxpayers, and accommodated some of the traveling entourage.
As for the distant relatives and hangers-on? Many were relegated to trailers located throughout the ranch. Similar accommodations and costs will be the order of the day with Donald trump. Come to think of it, the same can be said for George H.W. Bush’s private vacation home in Maine and Ronald Reagan’s in California.
Maybe if President Obama knew the cost of all the extra logistics and “friends” would be on his dime, without his private vacation home, he’d choose the one available at Camp David or the Motel 6 in suburban Washington.