When he was a candidate for president in 2008, Barack Obama said during an interview that as the occupant of the Oval Office his vacations, his leisure, even his need for sleep, would be gone in a dedication to the American people that such a position requires.
Then he had American taxpayers spend in excess of $70 million on his … vacations.
The comment he made came during an interview with New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. It was recorded in 2008 but apparently not published online until 2012.
In context, Obama said, “You have to understand that if you seek that office, you have to be prepared to give your life to it. Essentially the burden that any president, I think, strikes, with the American people is, um, you give me this office and in turn my, fears, doubts, insecurities, foibles, need for sleep, family life, vacations, leisure is gone. I am giving myself to you.”
He continued, “The American people should have no patience for whatever is going through your head because you’ve got a job to do. How I think about it is, um, that you don’t make that decision unless you are prepared to make that sacrifice … that bargain.”
And he noted, “I think what’s difficult and important for somebody like myself, who has a wonderful forbearing wife, and two gorgeous young children, is that they end up having to make some of those sacrifices, too.”
Hear the interview:
However, the partial expenses for taxpayers even before the Obama family’s extended and lavish vacation in Hawaii over the 2015 Christmas holiday, and the vacations for Vice President Joe Biden and his family, totaled $70,563,336.75, according the Washington watchdog Judicial Watch, which has been keeping tabs on the president’s vacationing.
Total costs are simply not available because some security-related expenses never are released. But a significant part of the costs are the taxpayer-funded jet travel for the Obama family.
Only a few weeks ago, Judicial Watch said, “You may want to sit down for this one. We have new records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that Barack Obama and family had a busy 2015, vacationing on the American taxpayers’ dime.
“The unnecessary travel included an Obama Palm Springs golf trip in June, a trip to New York City in July and a family trip to Martha’s Vineyard in August – all of which cost taxpayers $3,115,688.70 in travel expenses alone. The documents regarding the Obama travel expenses came in response to three Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the first was filed on June 30, 2015, the second on July 23, 2015, and the third on August 24, 2015.”
The report said the June 20 golf outing for Obama to Palm Springs required 10.6 hours of flying time, costing taxpayers $2.1 million. Then a July 18 outing for Obama and his daughters to New York cost $309,000. And the Obama family’s August trip to Martha’s Vineyard cost taxpayers about $620,000 in flight time alone.
Separate security costs include the salaries and expenses of the various Secret Service and other teams that the government provides. For example, during his annual Hawaii getaway over Christmas going on now, an ambulance remains on stand-by while Obama vacations.
Reported Judicial Watch, “In Palm Springs, Obama played golf at the plush, private golf course of Oracle billionaire Lawrence Joseph ‘Larry’ Ellison. The golf course is located on Ellison’s 249-acre Porcupine Creek estate, which features a golf club and course, a huge 18,400 square-foot main residence, eight guest houses, a pool, spa, gym and an amphitheater. It was Obama’s fifth golf outing to Palm Springs in the past two years. The West Coast trip reportedly included political fundraising and one speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors.”
The New York trip was to allow Obama some time “hanging out with his girls,” according to an ABC report.
“In August, while at Martha’s Vineyard, Obama spent much of his vacation playing golf on the island’s plush golf courses. His partners included former President Bill Clinton, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, notorious Democrat adviser Vernon Jordan, as well as former NBA player Alonzo Mourning and the father-son basketball team of Dell Curry and Stephen Curry.”
While there, the Obamas stayed on an estate renting for $50,000 a week.
“President Obama evidently cares not one whit about the costs to beleaguered taxpayers of his personal and political travel. Why would any public servant think it appropriate to use an Air Force plane (and an army of law enforcement) to take his daughters sightseeing in New York? Barack Obama is enamored with the presidency’s trappings of power and taxpayers are left holding the tab,” the report concluded.
WND reported a few years ago when Malia Obama’s March 2012 spring-break vacation to Mexico cost taxpayers at least $115,000.
Prior to the presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa during 2013, the Washington Post reported, “Hundreds of U.S. Secret Service agents will be dispatched to secure facilities in Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship, with a fully staffed medical trauma center, will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency. Military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts, giving 24-hour coverage over the president’s airspace, so they can intervene quickly if an errant plane gets too close.”
Additionally, “One hundred [Secret Service] agents are needed as ‘post-standers’ – to man security checkpoints and borders around the president – in each of the first three cities he visits. Sixty-five are needed to meet up with Obama in Dar es Salaam. … In addition, 80 to 100 additional agents will be flown in to work rotating shifts, with round-the-clock coverage, for Obama’s and his family’s security details …”
Judicial Watch reported the costs in lodging, entertainment and security for this one trip amounted to $2,189,727.60.
During the 2013 Christmas break in Oahu, presidential security essentially took over the entire island. In addition to concrete blockades and security patrols around Obama’s vacation quarters, his rental home was installed with bullet-proof glass, existing security systems were disabled, secure phone lines installed and his entourage brought in 20 to 30 vehicles. The Coast Guard enforced temporary exclusion zones in Kailua Bay, and armed Coast Guard dinghies patrolled the canal near the president’s rental home.
The 2013 17-day vacation in Hawaii for the president, his family, and staff and security was estimated to cost over $4 million.
In 2014, WND reported that two golf outings for Obama – to Key Largo, Florida, and to Palm Springs, California – cost $2.9 million.
Then there was the taxpayer expenses of $7.9 million for the Obamas to fly to Northern Ireland. That included an extra $251,000 for Michelle Obama and her daughters to go sightseeing in Dublin.
There were reports the Obamas spent more than $7 million for just three trips in late 2012 and early 2013, including more than $4 million for a Hawaii vacation at Christmas, more than $2.1 million for a trip to California for Obama to dine with high-dollar fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg and appear on the “Tonight” show with Jay Leno and nearly another $1.2 million for an Obama family August vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.
When Michelle Obama and her girls went to China, along with Michelle Obama’s mother, they stayed in a suite costing $8,350 per night, where a “well-placed hotel staffer” told the London Daily Mail that the staff was “fed up.”
“We can’t wait for this to be over, to tell you the truth,” the member of the concierge staff told the newspaper. “The first lady is gracious, and the girls are lovely.”
But he said Marian Robinson, Michelle Obama’s mother, had been “barking at the staff.”
Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, during the heat of the 2012 campaign filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office over the Obamas’ travel spending.
The complaint followed the president’s fundraiser trips on Air Force One and his use of a telephone on the jet for fundraising calls.
Among the various tabs included: $98,135.79 for Obama’s President’s Day 2013 golf trip, $81,523.64 for Michelle Obama’s President’s Day 2013 ski trip, $115,500.87 for Malia Obama’s spring break in Mexico, $83,182.99 for Michelle Obama’s President’s Day 2012 ski trip, $467,585 for Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain, $467,175 for the Obamas’ Copenhagen Olympic bid and $11,648.17 for the Obama’s to go to New York City for a date night.