.... Here’s a man who is supposed to set a reasonable example, when, in fact, the best word for his behavior is extravagant. Some of his trips are justified state visits and some are boondoggles, but all are turned into photo opportunities on our dime.
Obama’s failed visit to Colombia last week presents the opportunity to investigate presidential trips, and the reasonableness of their costs. I believe that, liberal or conservative, you will be surprised. Get a gander:
As president, Barack Obama has made 44 visits to foreign countries, at excessive taxpayer expense. That does not include his domestic trips and 191 fundraisers, including a recent trip to three states, including Florida, that incurred flight costs of $2.1 million and netted him $8 million in fundraising. The president uses two 747s, configured specially for him, exclusive for his private and official use. The U.S. Air Force says a presidential 747 costs $181,757 an hour to operate. Two 747s are required, one as a backup. At $180,000 per hour, times two, the tab for Obama’s 14-hour trip to Copenhagen and back in 2009 totaled over $5 million for airplane costs alone. A third 747 usually flies along, from the National Airborne Operations Command Post. The presidential 747 has a personal gym, showers, 19 televisions, computer and fax suites, and 85 telephones.
Several passenger and cargo planes also fly on his trips, to carry several armored limousines, along with 15 sniffer-dog teams and helicopters. Cargo jets cost $7,000 an hour to operate. President Obama also relies on fleets of Gulfstream jets and 19 helicopters, but the White House says helicopter numbers have been reduced. This president’s limo cost $300,000 to purchase in 2009.
An army of as many as 500 also accompanies the president, about 200 of whom are Secret Service, Defense Department and White House staff. Security teams and advance parties usually fly to any particular site weeks ahead on commercial aircraft, and carry out two to three preparatory visits before official trips to foreign countries. Obama brings a chef team from the White House kitchen, and a Marine Corps helicopter squadron to ferry him around. A medical unit of surgeons, nurses and other medical personnel also comes along.
If the first lady flies separately, add a 757 for her and her staff, attendants, hairdressers and other hangers-on. Whether she flies separately or not, Michelle Obama brings along her own entourage, between eight and 40 people, depending on what kind of trip it is. This does not include the security detail and personal staff, which the taxpayer pays for. On her 2010 vacation to Spain, 68 security and staff people went along.
In addition to aircraft and travel costs, there are hotel, meals, house rentals and transportation expenses for the phalanx of other travelers who attend.
Experts say the law is “murky” about how much of the costs for fundraising trips must be paid by Obama’s campaign. An expert in Federal Elections Commission law at the Campaign Finance Institute said reimbursement for mixed-purpose travel is somewhat “on your honor.” In 2011, Obama reimbursed the Treasury $5,500....