May 1 2014
I swear I only read People when I’m getting my hair done. So I’ve just had my hair done, and I stumbled across a fascinating factiod: Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, occupied the deluxe, $1,000 a night suit in one of Australia’s finest hotels.
Golly, I wish we could get President and Mrs. Obama to stay in the el cheapo, $1,000 a night hotel rooms. Don’t get me wrong. The cost of having the royals on tour is far more than their hotel accommodations. I know that the royals travel with a large entourage of hairdressers, secretaries, and other coat holders. Come to think of, so do the Obamas.
When Mrs. Obama made her recent trip to China, her hotel room in Beijing reportedly was $8,400 a night. Maybe China is just a more expensive place to visit. Still, couldn’t she have gone a little easier on the taxpayer? Though Mrs. Obama engaged in some talk about the importance of education, this was not a state visit. In fact, it had a spring break feel (the Obama daughters and Mrs. Obama's mother went along).
Michelle Obama wrapped up her March visit to China with a stop in Chengdu, arriving on March 25 and departing for the United States on the following day. But that one leg of the trip alone required about 900 room nights, ranging from 21 rooms beginning on March 13 for the advance team to a peak of 144 rooms when the first lady herself was at the hotel.
The two-day hotel stay cost $222,000.
Mrs. Obama’s appreciation for the finer things of life first made headlines when the first lady, her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and 68 Secret Service agents stayed at Marbella’s Hotel Villa Padierna. The rooms were estimated at $2,500 a night, leading Angela Tantaros to be the first to dub the first lady Marie Antoinette.
At the time, Tantaros wrote:
To be clear, what the Obamas do with their money is one thing; what they do with ours is another. Transporting and housing the estimated 70 Secret Service agents who will flank the material girl will cost the taxpayers a pretty penny.
Who among us has forgotten the time the Obamas required his and her planes for their Christmas trip to Hawaii?
We just paid $3 million for two golfing trips for the president, according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch. The trips were to Palm Springs, California and Key Largo, Florida. According to Judicial Watch, on one outing, the president spend about four hours highlighting the state’s drought—the ostensible reason for the visit to California—and the rest of the time golfing at an exclusive club.
Judicial Watch notes:
According to records obtained by Judicial Watch, through FOIA requests and subsequent lawsuits, the Obamas and Bidens have spent more than $40 million taxpayer dollars on trips since 2009, beginning with the Obamas’ much-publicized New York City “date night” in 2009 up through the president’s most recent Palm Springs and Key Largo golf outings.
The most lavish expenditure so far on record was for the Obamas’ 2013 Africa trip and Honolulu vacation, which cost taxpayers $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone. The single largest expense for accommodations was for Michelle Obama’s side-trip to Dublin, Ireland, during the 2013 G-8 conference in Belfast, when she and her entourage booked 30 rooms at the five-star Shelbourne Hotel, with the first lady staying in the 1500 square-foot Princess Grace suite at a cost of $3,500 a night. The total cost to taxpayers for the Obamas’ Ireland trip was $7,921,638.66.
These large entourages of necessary and unnecessary courtiers didn’t start with the Obamas. But the in-your-face spending of taxpayer money in a style more appropriate for celebrities than the premiere family of a republic does seem to me something new.
The Obamas aren’t alone in the pursuit of glitz on the public dime. An unseemly attitude about taxpayer money seems to pervade a large swath of the public sector. Remember, for example, the $823,000 bill we got for Vegas parties for fun-loving GSA employees? Some make the argument that these expenditures are relatively small in light of our trillions of dollars in debt. If you add up the costs of a first family that makes the Waleses look like penny pinchers and similar approaches to taxpayer dollars in federal agencies, I'll bet it's a significant chunk of change.
I wonder what Harry Truman, a great president, who took a post-presidential tour of the U.S. with his wife Bess in their Chrysler—the former president packed the trunk and was at the wheel—would make of the current state of affairs?
It is time we talk about small-R republican values. I’d hate to see us make rules regarding presidential expenditures. I’d prefer to see presidents who regard it as unseemly to take advantage of the citizenry.