Over $1.4 million. That's the generous estimate of how much the Obama family vacation cost taxpayers this Christmas. $1,474,200 to be exact.
The Hawaii Reporter compiled an estimated account of expenses for the Obama trip and found that, before factoring in unknown costs, taxpayers forked over almost $1.5 million. Here's how the paper broke it down:
- Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii: $63,000 (White House Dossier)
- Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii: $1 million (GAO estimates)
- Housing in beachfront homes for Secret Service and Seals in Kailua ($1,200 a day for 14 days): $16,800
- Costs for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel: $134,400 ($400 per day for 24 staff) – excluding meals and other room costs
- Police overtime: $250,000 (2009 costs reported by Honolulu Police Department)
- Ambulance: $10,000 (City Spokesperson)
- TOTAL COST: $1,474,200
Then there are the unknown costs:
- Rental of office building in Kailua on canal
- Security upgrades and additional phone lines
- Costs for car rentals and fuel for White House staff staying at Moana Hotel (Secret Service imports most of the cars used here to escort the president)
- Surveillance before the president arrives
- Travel costs for Secret Service and White House staff traveling ahead of the President
Yes, the president deserves a vacation. But the paper suggests that the Obamas could have used housing on military bases to save on costs such as security and housing for support personnel:
They could have chosen a less expensive and more secure place to stay such as a beachfront home on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station – just a two-minute drive away from the Kailuana Place property where they are now. The president visits the military base daily to workout, bowl with his kids or enjoy the more private beach there. He also could have stayed at a home 15 minutes away on the beach fronting Bellows Air Force Base as President Bill Clinton did.
But he didn't. Instead, the president and his friends pooled their money for the “Winter White House."
“The 7,000 square foot home," the paper says, "features 5 bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, a media room with surround sound, a kitchen suited for a master chef, a dining room and great room, a secluded lagoon-style pool with tropical waterfalls and a lavish island spa. The ocean lanai and garden lanai showcase ornate landscaping and stunning views of Kailua Bay and Mount Olomana.”
While taxpayers didn't pay directly for the actual house, they did end up paying for the decision.
Mele Kalikimaka, Mr. President.
(H/T: Washington Examiner)