When President Barack Obama suggested that his wife should spend extra time in paradise as an early birthday present, he was committing U.S. citizens to pay for the gift, whose costs will likely spiral into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The White House conceded on Monday that the federal treasury will foot the bill to fly First Lady Michelle Obama back to Washington, D.C. on a separate government aircraft after she finishes her extended vacation at the palatial 12-bedroom Hawaii home of talk show legend Oprah Winfrey.
Dedicated vehicles, Secret Service costs, and security sweeps of the Winfrey estate on Maui will add considerably to the total tab.
A Fox News Channel reporter asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday to clarify who would get the bill for Mrs. Obama’s travel, and the spinner landed on taxpayers.
‘The first lady stayed behind in Hawaii, and the White House said that was an early birthday present from the president,’ noted Fox’s Ed Henry.
‘Does that mean he’s paying for the flight back, or are the taxpayers paying for it?’
Carney read from a prepared statement in his briefing binder: ‘As with all personal travel, the first family will appropriately fund personal expenses, Ed.’