President Obama has no need for Santa Claus on vacation when he can shift much of his tab onto the American taxpayer.
The Obamas arrived in Kailua, Hawaii, on Saturday for the eighth year in a row. Their costly Oahu getaway has been deemed a “paradise within a paradise” and a “tropical palace” by the Huffington Post. This year’s luxury home, along with a “Winter White House” they rent when its available, costs somewhere between $5,000 to $10,000 a night throughout the year.
Other famous faces to vacation on the island retreat include Hollywood stars Angeline Jolie and Bradley Cooper, the website reported.
The nonprofit organization Judicial Watch, which regularly tracks expenditures of Obama’s vacations, estimated the round-trip cost of operating Air Force One at $3.7 million. The president plans to return to Washington Jan. 2.
“The Obamas’ travel is out of control,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton told AL.com Dec. 14. “They are treating the Air Force One like an Uber ride. And President Obama seems oblivious to the burden he is placing on Americans with his continuous vacations, getaways, and political junkets at taxpayer expense.”
The organization’s accounting of Obama’s personal travel tallies $70.5 million since 2009. Trips taken in 2015 alone have accrued $11.6 million in travel costs.
The White House argues that Obama’s trips include work-related activities.
“The president recognizes that he is president of the United States 24 hours a day, seven days a week, wherever he happens to be,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz, McClatchy reported Dec. 17. “We believe the American people would not begrudge their president for taking some downtime with his family around the holidays.”
Presidents are also required to pay for their own lodging, food and incidentals while on vacation.
Obama has taken 23 vacations spanning all or part of 177 days, the website reported. The Washington Post reported Aug. 15, 2014, that former President George W. Bush visited his Texas ranch 77 times during his eight years in office. The cost of his trips was not provided.
The president spent much of Monday golfing at Mid Pacific Country Club in Lanikai with friends Greg Orme, Bobby Titcomb and Darrell Harrington.
The Obamas spent Tuesday walking 1,000 feet up the “Koko Crater,” a dormant cinder cone volcano on Oahu’s southeast side.