President Obama spent $97 million over eight years in office; Trump is on track to outspend him in less than a year.
President Trump has spent 11 days of his first 33 days in office at Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Palm Beach, Florida. According to CBS News, the 45th president of the United States in less than a month in office has already cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million in travel expenses.
The estimated $10 million is only connected to the president’s three trips so far to the “Winter White House.” The figure does not include the trip that the Trump sons made to the United Arab Emirates to open a golf resort and the cost of the Secret Service agents that accompanied them.
The White House has refused to disclose the exact amount Mr. Trump spends on his visits to Mar-a-Lago. However, a conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch arrived at the numbers by culling the $10 million estimate from a similar trip that President Obama made in 2013.
During that weekend, Mr. Obama spent $3.6 million of taxpayer’s money in South Florida. The Pentagon had spent around $2.8 million on Air Force One as well as on military personnel and support aircraft. The Coast Guard and Secret Service had run up a $800,000 tab. Air Force One rips out a chunk out of the presidential travel budget, costing around $200,000 every hour it is in operation.
The Judicial Watch believes that a four-hour round-trip flight to the seaside estate that Trump converted to a private club in 1995 will cost at least $700,000. A figure that will add up quickly if not checked, according to Tom Fitton, president of the watchdog group.
“If he’s going there every weekend, the costs are going to add up pretty quickly. He doesn’t need to go to Florida every weekend. He can work at the White House or up at Camp David.”
Before Trump became president, he constantly criticized Obama as a “habitual vacationer” who spent taxpayer’s money on golf getaways. In 2015, the 70-year-old told the Hill,“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.” In his first interview after clinching the presidency, Trump told CBS’s 60 Minutes, “I don’t think we’ll be big on vacations, no.
The Washington Post is reporting that the elaborate lifestyle of America’s first family is putting a strain on security officials as well as the Secret Service. In addition, the logistical and financial concerns of catering for the Trump family has already zipped past the typical costs allocated to previous presidents.
Palm Beach County officials are even planning to ask Washington to reimburse the tens of thousands of dollars spent a day in expenses whenever Mr. Trump is town. The expenses accrue from deputies sorting out security and traffic complications. Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw revealed that local tax payers cough out $60,000 a day in overtime police payments whenever Trump is in town.
The financial cost has overwhelmed the agencies that bear the brunt of these expenses, particularly the Homeland Security and Defense departments.
Eric Trump and his security detail were in the Dominican Republic. Eric was meeting with developers to discuss a Trump-brand luxury resort. The governmental costs for the trip have not been made available, but records show that security officials on a reconnaissance mission to the area stayed at a five-star hotel –AlSol Del Mar and paid $5,470 per night.
The Security Service detail that accompanied the Trump sons to the “Beverly Hills of Dubai” ran hotel bills that skipped past the $16,000 mark. This month, over $100,000 was spent on Eric Trump’s visit to promote a condo tower in Uruguay. Eric and Don Jr. will again travel to Vancouver on February 28 for the grand launch of a Trump skyscraper. In New York, the city pays $500,000 in security costs for the first lady, Melania and son, Barron at Trump Tower. This could spike up to $183 million a year.
Agents are saddled with multiple tasks of holding fort at the homes of America’s first family. This includes providing security for Trump’s four adult children whenever they are on the go. The first daughter recently moved into a Northwest Washington neighborhood with her family. Her brothers have been tasked with managing the multi-billion dollar Trump Empire and travel all over the world.
Jonathan Wackrow, a 14-year Secret Service employee with Obama’s detail pointed out that agents could burn out because of the need to provide security in Washington, Florida, New York, and across the world as the family members travel.
“There was an anticipation of how stressful it was going to be on the agency, but the harsh reality is that the stress is just overwhelming. It’s a logistical nightmare. Agents are at a severe risk of burnout, and the very last thing you want is to have your agents burned out.”
Presidential families have for decades been assured round-the-clock protection no matter the destination or cost. Moreover, every presidency has brought a different set of lifestyle habits and operational challenges. George Bush occasionally stayed at his isolated ranch in Texas. Obama made yearly trips to Martha’s Vineyard as well as to his native state of Hawaii.
The presidential protection force has gone through years of low morale, budget shortages, and leadership tussles. Director, Joseph Clancy recently announced that he was stepping down from his post.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]