Donald Trump’s vacation spending is meeting the resistance of the tax-paying public, Florida Congress members, Democratic Senators, and now a Joint Economic Committee. Think Progress reports that a Democratic Joint Economic Committee has done some number-crunching on the topic and says that taxpayer funds spent on Trump’s vacations could have provided child care for 2,338 children in Mississippi or college tuition for 815 students in New Hampshire.
Think Progress also notes those numbers “are conservative” and only account for Trump’s vacation spending for this first three weeks in office. Since he took office on January 20, Donald Trump has visited a Trump-branded property for eight consecutive weekends. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property is his favored choice for weekend getaways, and he has referred to it as the “Winter White House.”
The Miami Herald notes that President Richard Nixon also called his Florida vacation spot the “Winter White House.”
Think Progress notes an extensive itemized list for Trump’s vacation spending that includes costs to Air Force One, Coast Guard expenses, security, and “other expenditures.” As the Inquisitr previously reported, Trump’s vacation spending also exceeded the cost of Meals on Wheels, a program he was cutting funding to with his proposed budget.
The report also noted that costs to Air Force One costs alone are approximately $180,000 an hour. Additional expenses added to Trump’s vacation bills are costs to the local communities he visits, with businesses like the local airports being out thousands of dollars a day just to accommodate a visiting president.
At a White House press briefing on Wednesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if Donald Trump was concerned about the pushback on his vacation spending.
Sean Spicer said, “No, he feels great.”
The White House also refuses to provide an actual cost list of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago visits. The Washington Post has conducted an analysis based on known costs, such as the costs to run Air Force One over an entire weekend, and estimates the minimum costs for a weekend getaway for Donald Trump is $3.3 million. That number doubles when he is hosting dignitaries at locations such as Mar-a-Lago.
The push back and the resistance to Trump’s vacation spending is growing and getting more official than taxpayer and local business complaints. A Joint Economic Committee of Democrats has released an analysis of this spending. They have the following to say, according to Think Progress.
“Taxpayer money spent on Donald Trump’s vacations since January 2017 could have paid for child care for 2,338 kids in Mississippi or 521 kids in the District of Columbia. Instead of paying for President Trump’s vacations, taxpayers could have sent 3,140 students to college in Wyoming, or 815 students to college in New Hampshire.”
The Joint Economic Committee is not the only government agency concerned about Trump’s vacation spending. The Government Accountability Office said on Tuesday that they will be conducting a review to determine if the costs incurred are appropriate. National security concerns when taking White House business out of the White House are also an issue after a Mar-a-Lago guest posted a picture on Facebook of a White House official carrying the nuclear football.
An additional national security concern was voiced by the public when White House pool reporters at Mar-a-Lago reported that Donald Trump took a call regarding a North Korea missile crisis in a full dining room. Sensitive documents were reportedly illuminated on cell phones in the same dining room during that exchange.
In addition to reviewing the expenditures of government employees, the GOA will be reviewing the screening process of the Secret Service to see if guests of Mar-a-Lago are subjected to increased security screening.
Local businesses are also concerned about Trump’s vacation spending and how that has become a financial burden to Palm Beach. It’s also a matter that has currently come to the attention of some Congress members and members of the Senate.
Politico reports that Rep. Lois Frankel of Palm Beach County has written a letter to the president, noting that local businesses have lost as much as two million dollars in his first four visits to Mar-A-Lago. She is also asking the White House to recover these costs. Politico reports that Rep. Frankel wrote the following on the matter.
“If compensation is not assured of being forthcoming, we respectfully ask that you curtail your visits until such time as that matter is resolved favorably to our area.”
Mar-a-Lago is located in the congressional district of Rep. Frankel. In her letter, signed also by fellow Congress members Rep. Alcee Hastings and Rep. Ted Deutch, Rep. Frankel itemized the costs incurred by the president each time he visits.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department and Fire Rescue have incurred over $1.7 million in overtime expenses to date and estimate that at Trump’s current rate, the figure will reach $5.8 million by the year end. Local law enforcement overtime exceeds $60,000 per visit to accommodate patrol for Trump protesters.
The local airport Lantana Airport has lost $170,000 to date, with other airport businesses losing approximately $720,000 to date. On that matter, Rep. Frankel had this to say.
“We write to ask your assistance in alleviating the financial burden being shouldered by Palm Beach County, the City of West Palm Beach, and Palm Beach County businesses as a result of your repeated visits to your Mar-A-Lago estate. During your campaign and presidency you voted to make jobs more plentiful and government less wasteful. We sincerely request that you lead by example.”
Trump’s vacation spending is also adding an increased burden to the Secret Service, who have asked for an additional $60 million dollars in additional funding. The Miami Herald reports that approximately half of that at $26.8 million would be going toward protecting Melania Trump at Trump Tower in New York City. The New York City detail on Mrs. Trump is another cost experiencing the resistance of the public, as well as New York City itself.
The Miami Herald notes that Florida is a popular choice for getaways for presidents past and present. But it was President Nixon’s home on 500 Bay Lane in Key Biscayne that was the first Winter White House on record. Nixon reportedly spent a lot of time there as the Watergate scandal unfolded, drawing another comparison between Trump and Nixon as the cloud of the Trump Russia scandal hovers over the current White House.
The cost of securing both the actual White House and Nixon’s Winter White House was reportedly over $1 million. This prompted the Presidential Protection Assistance Act so Congress could limit Secret Service spending.
Between Mar-a-Lago visits, Trump Tower in New York City, and everyday expenses, Trump has far exceeded the one million dollar cap put in place in the Nixon era. The Presidential Protection Assistance Act also legislates that protection is available for “two or more people domiciled together are considered one protectee, and can only choose one primary residence between them.”
But this is not the case for Mr. and Mrs. Trump, who live in separate residences. Jim Helminski, a former Secret Service agent and regional director, told the Miami Herald it is unclear if the president is breaking this law at this time, but he said the optics are bad.
“A president has to understand that if the voting public starts seeing that they’re spending more time on vacation than in the White House representing the American people, they could rightfully get upset about it.”
The Presidential Protection Assistance Act is not the only piece of legislation coming into the discussion of Trump’s vacation spending. Global News reports that a group of Democratic senators has introduced a bill that as an acronym spells out “Mar-a-Lago Act.” The bill is called the Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness Act and, if passed, would require Trump to provide transparency on the visitor logs for those visiting both the actual White House and any location he frequents.
As it stands now, the link on the White House website for visitor access logs sends users to an empty page with the following statement.
“This page is being updated. It will post records of White House visitors on an ongoing basis, once they become available.”
The Obama Administration voluntarily published visitor access logs. Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico released a statement on his website.
“It’s simple: the American people have a right to know who has access to the president and who has leverage over this administration.”
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island also wants to know who has unfettered access to the president.
Trump supporters’ first response to any rebuffing of Trump’s vacation spending is to address President Obama’s spending.
Indeed, even Donald Trump addressed the topic himself on Twitter in 2014, saying, “We can not continue to let Obama fly around on Air Force 1 at the cost of millions of dollars a day for the purpose of politics and play.”
However, Trump’s costs for Trump Tower are approximately $500,000 a day, and his “politics and play” weekends cost taxpayers over millions every weekend. He has gone on vacation for eight consecutive weekends since he took office.
Government watchdog agency Judicial Watch has itemized the costs of President Obama’s vacation spending with a December 2016 report. In eight years, President Obama’s vacations cost $96 million dollars. One vacation with Michelle Obama and her daughters on a ski trip to Aspen cost just over $222,000.
In comparison, Melania Trump’s security in Trump Tower is costing taxpayers between $127,000 and $146,000 a day when Donald Trump is not in New York City, according to the New York Times. This is half of what one vacation by the former First Lady undertook over several days.
A Change.org petition has been launched asking the Trump’s to cover those costs themselves as well and will be delivered to Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. The petition has over a quarter of a million signatures at the time of press.
It isn’t just Donald Trump’s vacation and Trump Tower spending that is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every time one of his children conducts a business trip that has nothing to do with the business of the country, taxpayers foot that bill as well.
Gulf News reports that a trip to Dubai for Trump Tower business taken by Donald Trump Jr. was paid for by the taxpayers at a cost of $16,000. Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump also went to Vancouver, Canada, for hotel business and racked up $96,000 in hotel bills, according to Gulf News.
Where normally most corporations would cover the cost of business trips, the Trump family does not appear to conduct business this way. Donald Trump Jr. has also been to Uruguay on company business — on the tax payer’s dime.
The cost of security to Trump Tower coupled with the cost of Trump families vacation spending could undoubtedly send a lot of children to college, help ease the burden of child care for lower income families, or feed many recipients of Meals on Wheels. A list of where that money “could go” is as exhaustive as the exorbitant expenses in Trump’s vacation spending, which has already well outpaced his predecessor tenfold.
[Feature Image by Alex Brandon/AP Images]