Oh, the screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth at the price tag for the Obama’s approximately $4.1 million Hawaii vacation. You really gotta hand it to The Huffington Post, and its founder, politically schizophrenic Arianna Huffington who hasn’t quite figured out what she wants to be when she grows up.
Today’s HuffPo headline screams, “Obama Hawaii Vacation Costs Tax Payers $4 Million; A Look At The President’s Past Hawaii Vacations,” and my, the reading public is supposed to feel instant outrage at this huge waste of taxpayer money ($2.5 million more than last year) so that our President can take a (much-deserved) vacation.
But peruse the article a little further . . . yes, it could be that the trip is costing over $4 million, with Secret Service detail, advance planning, staff, the White House press corps, and all of the perks of being President of the United States (and practically the whole frigging planet). But at least part of the reason for the higher tab than last year should be borne by the goofier-than-batship House GOP’ers. Despite the fact that First Lady Michelle Obama and his two daughters landed in Hawaii last Friday, the President is forced to remain in D.C. – “for as long as it takes,” he said – until John Boehner and his happy henchmen, consisting of the teabagging House GOP’ers, approve the payroll tax cuts and extend unemployment benefits. President Obama is, you see, committed to making sure that average Americans don’t spend the holidays mired in gloom of what is to come – or not to come.
And, as a side note, all who are waiting for the President and Harry Reid to blink on this one should probably not hold their breaths.
Perhaps the critics of this vacation believe the Obamas and their daughters should fly commercial, wander off the plane in Hawaii and hail a cab to their vacation spot – and that they aren’t deserving of the exacting plans and security required when the First Family travels. What HuffPo didn’t put in neon lights in the headline is that the Obamas “have rented and paid for their own accommodations in the form of a beach front rental on Kailua,” while the First Family’s staff and White House press corps bunk at the Moana Surfrider, a Westin hotel with rates starting at $250. Sheesh, visitors to Chicago pay more than that for a room at the Holiday Inn.
So, let’s see exactly what horrifying extravagance is costing such horrific amounts . . . oh, wait – they aren’t horrific amounts. And there’s no horrifying extravagance.
As reported by hawaiireporter.com, the biggest ticket item for this vacation is the travel, pegged at $3,629,622. For Air Force One, running at about $181,757 per flight hour, to fly direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours, or $1,635,813 each way. Add to that the cost of the USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii, another C-17 flight with the presidential helicopter, pilots and support crews for the test flights, plus the six-member crew’s per diem and hotel, and you’ve got a big chunk of the total price tag.
Detractors would no doubt prefer that the Obamas fly commercial with two stop-overs.
Although the Obamas are paying for their own rental, housing is estimated at about $151,000 to house the Secret Service, Coast Guard and Navy Seals. The cost to put up the remaining staff and press corps costs the taxpayers about $72,000.
$260,000 of the total pricetag goes to local police and the ambulance that accompanies the President 24 hours a day.
Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. As of August of this year, President Obama had taken 61 days of vacation, a number that paled in comparison, at the same point in their presidencies, with George W. Bush’s 180 days at his ranch, and Ronald Reagan’s 112 days at his. The Daily Kos estimated George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch trips to cost taxpayers about $226,000 a trip in flight costs alone . . . so do the math. At the very, very least, the pricetag for Bush’s vacations to Crawford cost us $17,407,544 - and that’s before factoring in the costs of security detail, press corps, staff and the like.
Some of us are thrilled that the Obamas are once again vacationing in Hawaii – there’s always hope for another pose of a shirtless President Obama playing in the surf.