President Donald Trump has stated repeatedly that he wants to cut the federal budget. But that might not apply to his travel budget, which continues to grow as he treks between the White House and his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., nearly every weekend.
So far, Trump’s travel to his private Florida club has cost taxpayers an estimated $20 million in his first 80 days in the White House, putting the new president on a trajectory in his first year in office to surpass former President Barack Obama’s total travel expenses over eight years, CNN reported.
It is tough to calculate the exact cost for each presidential trip, but a 2016 Government Accountability Office report about a four-day trip Obama took to Florida in 2013 determined that the total cost to U.S. Secret Service and the Coast Guard was $3.6 million.
For his part, Trump has spent six weekends — for a total of 21 days — at Mar-a-Lago. The total estimate for the president’s trips so far — based on Obama’s 2013 Florida travel — is around $21.6 million.
By contrast, Obama’s travel over his two terms in office cost taxpayers almost $97 million, according to a review by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. When that number was revealed in December, Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the Obama family’s “notorious abuse of presidential travel perks wasted military resources and stressed the Secret Service.”
“President-elect Trump can immediately save taxpayers money by reforming presidential travel,” he added.
But if Trump keeps up his current travel routine, he is on pace to exceed Obama’s eight-year total in just one year.
It should be noted that the president’s trips to Palm Beach may soon end, as the weather begins to heat up. However, Trump is expected to trade trips to Mar-a-Lago for trips to his penthouse apartment at Trump Tower in New York City — where first lady Melania Trump and their son, Barron, have been living as he finishes school — and his private Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster Township, New Jersey, CNN noted.
In addition to his personal travel, New York City officials have said it is costing the city between $127,000 and $146,000 per day to protect Barron and the first lady, according to CNN. Trump has not visited New York since taking office.
Some have lambasted Trump as hypocritical, given he was such a harsh critic of Obama’s travel as a private citizen.
All of this comes against the backdrop of Trump’s campaign promise to rein in government spending. According to the White House’s budget blueprint, Trump would like to see major slashes in federal spending, including a 29 percent cut in the State Department’s budget, a 31 percent cut in the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding, and a complete defunding of the National Endowment of the Arts.
And in March, Trump signed an executive order to “improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch by directing to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies, … components of agencies, and agency programs.”
Data on the president’s travel expenses to date comes the same week Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney reportedly sent a memo to federal agencies telling them to prepare for major cuts to funding and staff.
In order to accommodate funding cuts, most agencies will be forced to sell real estate, make personnel cuts, and reform and consolidate current programs deemed to be redundant or unnecessary.