$16.4 trillion – that’s the latest figure for America’s massive national debt. Nearly $6 trillion of this debt was racked up in the first term of the Obama presidency – a 50 percent increase. It is horrifying to imagine what the debt will be when Obama leaves the White House in 2016, unless Congress has the willpower to stand in the way.
Meanwhile, as the world’s superpower is literally drowning in debt, President Obama is basking in the warmth of the beaches of Hawaii, at an exclusive resort way beyond the financial reach of most Americans. The president pays the cost of his own family’s accommodations, but there are a large number of associated costs which are paid from the public purse.
What is the actual cost of Obama’s lavish vacation to the American taxpayer? A staggering $7 million, according to veteran White House reporter Keith Koffler, who wrote in his blog earlier this week:
In a move that is rich in irony, President Obama agreed Tuesday night to sign an emergency deficit reduction bill that does almost nothing to rein in spending and then jetted out to Hawaii to resume his vacation at an extra cost of more than $3 million to taxpayers.
The price tag is in addition to more than $4 million that is already being spent on the Obamas’ Hawaii idyll, bringing the total cost of the excursion to well over $7 million.
The added cost was incurred because by the time the Obamas return from Hawaii – whenever that is – the president will have used Air Force One to travel to Honolulu and back twice.
The White House doesn’t like to publish the costs of presidential vacations, but Koffler has done the sums:
Air Force One is known to cost about $180,000 an hour to fly. Based on an estimated 18 hours roundtrip flying time for the jet between Washington and Honolulu, the travel cost alone of Obama’s decision to return to Hawaii amounts to around $3.24 million. And that doesn’t include the price tag for the massive security operation required to move the president or the cost of the cargo plane that follows Air Force One around.
As Koffler notes, President Obama could easily have saved taxpayers a good deal of money:
The Obamas could have saved taxpayers millions by returning from Hawaii together after Christmas and then resuming their vacation at one of the many ritzy resorts that lie outside of Washington. If the beach is a must, even a trip to Florida would have been far less expensive.
Or they could have simply stayed at the White House or Camp David, each a luxurious government-run installation, billing taxpayers a relative pittance.
According to Koffler, “the total cost to taxpayers of Obama’s vacations to Hawaii since becoming president is likely in excess of $20 million, and possibly much, much more.”
The message this sends is one of sheer contempt for the American taxpayer. $7 million may be viewed by the White House as a drop in the ocean compared to the overall size of America’s federal debt, but it is the principle that counts. The vast majority of American people simply couldn’t afford the kind of vacation enjoyed by the US president, not least at a time when 12.2 million Americans are still out of work.