Diagnosis for Democracy
Insights into the State of Our Union
A Blog by Rob Tenery, MD

Should Our President 'Tighten His Belt'?

By Rob Tenery, MD on May 9, 2016

The median household income, adjusted for inflation in November 2015, was $56,746. It cost $206,000 to operate Air Force One for just one hour. This contrast should raise questions as to whether the high costs funded by the taxpayers for the President, his family and his staff are justified.

Former President Ronald Reagan’s wife, Nancy, defended her husband’s frequent trips to their California ranch while in office by pointing out that, “Presidents don’t get vacations--- they just get a change of scenery.”  She was implying that whether on vacation, fulfilling obligations away from the White House or on the campaign trail, the President is always ‘on the job.’ That argument aside, there must be some accountability to the taxpayers since they are ultimately responsible for paying for the majority of these costs.

Presidents are responsible to pay for their own and their families’ lodging, food and incidentals while on vacation. They also pay for their travel expenses but only at the rates charged by the commercial airlines.1 That is why many stay at properties they own or the Presidential retreat at Camp David. Since at least some of the vacation time is devoted to doing the President’s work, lodging and meals for the approximately 200 people that accompany the President on vacation are also added to the taxpayers’ bill.1

Robert Keith Gray, in his book, Presidential Perks Gone Royal, writes that taxpayers spent $1.4 billion on President Obama and his family on 2011. The long-time Republican and member of the Reagan White House went on to breakdown the expenses of staffing, housing, flying and entertaining.  He compared this to the $57.8 million that the British taxpayers spent on the royal family.2   

Even though Grey’s Republican Party bias is apparent, some of his points are well taken. A frequently quoted example used in pointing out excessive spending by Obama and his family is their trip this past December to Hawaii for two weeks: In addition to Air Force One, there was the Air Force cargo plane for Obama’s helicopter and limousines that cost the taxpayers another $150,000 to go to Hawaii and back. Another airplane was used to fly in the Marine Corps contingent at a similar cost. There were the estimated costs of $275,000 for the Honolulu Police Department and $15,80 for the local Emergency Management Services for overtime pay and be on call in case any emergency ensued.  Flying-time alone, cost the taxpayers in the range of $3.5 million.3

Bradley Patterson, in his respected book, To Serve the President, estimates that Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, incurred costs to the taxpayers in 2008 that were about $1.6 billion, with about half of that number, or more than $800 million, coming from the Secret Service budget.4

According to CBS News, White House correspondent, Mark Knoller, in their eight -year terms, George W. Bush took 533 days of vacation, Bill Clinton took 174 days and Reagan took 349 days. Through his Christmas vacation to Hawaii, Knoller reports that Obama has logged 177 days during his 23 vacations. That does not include trips by the First Family without the President and the costs incurred for transportation and security that are mostly paid for by the taxpayers.

Although critics point out that Obama has appointed 34 czars as part of his staff, the most criticism has been about the excessive size of Michelle Obama’s staff, compared to the previous First Ladies. In 2009, Katie Lelyveld, Michelle Obama’s press secretary claimed the First Lady’s staff consisted of 24 employees. Contrasting these numbers to former First Lady, Laura Bush, who had 15 staffers, plus three more in the Office of the White House Social Secretary, the differences don’t seem all that excessive.5

The President and his family have been broadly panned for their lavish spending at the taxpayers’ expense. Compared to his predecessor, George W. Bush, and his family, that criticism seems unfounded. This is not to say there are not and have not been excesses in spending by Obama and some of the other previous Presidents. The travel demands and the growing need for security, in an increasingly dangerous world, have raised the costs of transportation and protection exponentially.

However, after a closer look, there are abuses in spending by whomever occupies the Oval Office that seem endemic from one administration to another. Those are mainly concerned with the travel and security costs that are incurred anytime the President or any member of the First Family leaves the confines of the White House.

Taxpayer responsibility for transportation and security costs seem inappropriate, when the President’s purpose is for fundraising and campaigning. These activities are hidden from the general public in the veil of work activities. Two recent examples are Obama’s trip to California in June that included a speech to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco as well as a golf outing in Palm Springs. One can only guess how many fundraising events the President was able to squeeze in while he was there. It is also very unlikely that any of the money the President raised while in California went to offset the costs of his journey.

A Judicial Watch report is very enlightening as to how the Obamas have used their position and the taxpayer’s monies to further their fundraising efforts and travel experiences. Under the Freedom of Information Act, Judicial Watch has submitted requests and filed lawsuits attempting to make public the nature and costs of First Family’s trips and ultimate cost to the taxpayers. At the time of the release of this report, the U.S. Secret Service has not responded to 19 Judicial Watch requests. One can only surmise as to the reason for foot-dragging by the Secret Service on the so-far unreleased requests. Listed below are examples Judicial Watch has been able to collect so far:

·      President Obama’s 2015 golf and family vacation trips cost taxpayers $3, 115,688 in travel expenses alone.

·      Obama attending political fundraisers in Los Angeles and San Francisco cost $1.76 million in transportation expenses.

·      July 2014 fundraising trips to Denver and New York City by Obama cost $1.6 million in flight expenses.

·      President Obama’s June 2013 trip to Belfast, Ireland, including a Dublin sightseeing side trip by Michelle Obama, her daughters and her entourage, cost taxpayers almost $ 8 million.

·      The Obama’s ‘date night’ in May, 2009 cost taxpayers $11,648 in security costs alone.

·      President Obama incurred almost $7.4 million in flight expenses for his 2013 vacations to Hawaii, Martha’s Vineyard and California to appear on the Jay Leno Show.6

The median family income, adjusted for inflation, has decreased slightly under President Obama’s seven plus years in office. During that same time period, the Obama family has spent at least $70.5 million of the taxpayers’ money on personal and largely personal vacations. Many more millions have been spent at the taxpayer’s expense to raise money for the President's own use and the Democratic Party.  Obama is not alone. Republican Presidents are also to blame.

The popularity of Donald Trump, and the very surprising support for socialist Bernie Sanders, demonstrate the public’s loss in trust for what comes out of Washington. They are demanding change, and it’s not just with the Congress. The next inhabitant of the Oval Office needs to do some ‘belt tightening’, while loosening the ‘noose around the neck’ of the consumers and small businesses!


1.     https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-president…ations/2014/08/15/2aa969c6-2311-11e4-958c-268a320a60ce_story.html

2.     http://dailycaller.com/2012/09/26/taxpayers-spent-1-4-billion-on-obama-family-last-year-perks-questioned-in-new-book/

3.     http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3361183/Obamas-treat-Air-For…ng-watchdog-president-s-Christmas-Hawaii-trip-expensive-justify.html

4.     https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/bachmanns-…idency/2013/03/17/bb5f3ea2-8f40-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_blog.html

5.     http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepresidentandcabinet/a/Michelle-Obama-Staff-Size-Salaries.htm

6.     http://www.judicialwatchorg/obamas-vacations/

Leave a Comment

Share on Twitter Print


Additional Blog Posts

Hillary's Candidacy Proved This Country wasn't Ready for Bernie Yet

Trying to Take Away the President’s First Amendment Rights by Odell Brown

When the 'Cookie Jar' is Empty, Will the Liberals finally Wake Up?

Why the Democrats are Pulling Out All the Stops

The Road to Serfdom by Odell Brown

Should Illegal Aliens have the Inalienable Right to Health Care?

It Appears the Liberals May be on their Way to Winning

Are the Blacks 'Enslaved Voters' of the Democratic Party?

Reparations: Who, if Anyone, Should Pay for American Slavery? by Odell Brown

The New Definition of Racism

The 'Invisible' Elephant in the Room

Where is Barry Soetoro?

The College Education "Gamesmanship Racket" by Odell Brown

Robert Mueller Finally Showed his True Colors

Stop Confusing Trump the Man with Trump the 'Force'

The College Education "Gamesmanship Racket" by Odell Brown

Where Trump Might take Us if Elected to a Second Term

They are Probably Going to get Away with It... For Now

Who Will be Steering Our Ship into the Future?

How Long Will the Kite of Obstruction Fly?

Caught in the 'Honey Fly Trap' Biden Helped Create* by Odell Brown

When Doctors Finally Said No

A 'Wag the Dog' Tale if There Ever was One

Love What Your Country Can Do for You and Ask for More* by Odell Brown

Their True Colors are Showing Through

Where do We go From Here with Our Health Care System?

The Crisis of Late Third Term Abortions

A New Push for 'Rights' from the Left * by Odell Brown

Accepting Racism because 'It was Just the Way It was'

Illegal Immigrants Could Determine Our Next President

Trump Should forget Running in 2020

Is Trump's 'Wall' about Racism?

The Democrats May Leave Him No Choice

Pretend-Conservatives Christian Politicians and Your Conservative Values * by Odell Brown

Out of Pocket 'Hush Money' ain't Illegal

The 'Old' Democrats and Donald Trump Share the Same Vision

Black Middle-class Achievement has its Best Chance with Two Parents* by Odell Brown

Voter ID May be the Only Way to Make Our Elections Honest

Did Hillary Finally Get Her Win?

Does Respect for Our Borders Matter?

What is Trump's Angle?

When Protests Turn into 'Mobs'

Kavanaugh's Accusers Could Not Pass the 'Smell Test'

It's One Big Shell Game to Them

A Civilized Civil War, For Now

How Identity Politics Ruin Decent People

Public Good versus the Greater Good

An Another Attempt at a High-Tech Lynching

It Would have been Simpler if Hillary had Won

My Football Watching is Now on Saturdays

Some Girl in Iowa

Are Today's Younger Doctors Better Physicians?

A Constitutional Convention May be the Only Chance

This Country has Lost Respect for the Office of the Presidency

Where are the 'Blue States' Taking this Country?

The Interest in Children of Illegals 'Stinks Like a Week-old Fish'

Maxine Waters is Taking Her Black Privilege too Far

Who Would Our Founders Select for the Supreme Court?

What if Trump Took a Knee?

Mueller’s Investigation is Acting Unconstitutionally

The Art of the Compromise

Betrayed by the Intelligence Community

For his Own Good, Mueller Needs to Wind It Up

Michelle Wolf: A Don Rickles She's Not

The District Court Judges are Tying Trump's Hands

Jeff Sessions' Recusal is Trump's Biggest Mistake

Meaningful Dialogue is Being Strangled Out by Corporate Sponsors

Trump Could be Moving West

School Shootings: We're Looking Past the Problem

'Big Brother' is Stepping in on Social Media

Is There a Better Way to Stop School Shootings?

'Bottom-Feeders' --- The Fourth Branch of Government

Even Rachel Maddow Should have Reason for Concern

"What Difference… Does It Make"

The Continuing Creep of Socialism

Are We Being 'Duped' about Illegals' Crime Rates?

What if Trump Ran as an Independent in 2020?

Millennials Need to Wakeup to the Big Picture

A Cancer in the Nation's Capital

They Couldn't Believe It When Trump Said 'No'!

Do They Ever Vote for the 'Greater Good' in Washington?

Bernie Sanders Won't Be the Last

It's Time for Doctors to Speak Out

Stopping 'Black Swan' Slaughter

Is Taking the Knee Blacklash or a Push for Globalism?

Maybe the 'Deplorables' Knew What They Were Doing

It's The Cover-up That Should Get Them Convicted

The Demise of the Independent Physician

President Trump Trumps Obama(care)

Does Kaepernick Have a Point?

If Not Trump, It Would Have Been Ted Cruz…or even Jeb Bush

Take a Knee, Draw the Penalty

Crossing the Aisle on Healthcare Reform is the Only Option

The Conservative Movement's Last Chance

Political Correctness is Airbrushing Our History Away

Picking Your President Blindfolded

It Took Harvey to Bring Us Together

A Republicrat Fairy Tale

Where Does the Congress Go from Here?

The Stench from the Swamp is Getting Worse

Jorge Ramos Might Take a Lesson from His Native Mexico

The 'People' Deserve 'Their Day in Court'

Which Party is 'Wagging the Dog'

The Goldwater Rule Could Come Back to Haunt Trump's Critics

The Deep State--- Possibly Watergate on Steroids

The Republicans Don't Know Whether to Duck or Fall in Line

Insurrection at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Many 'Ivory Towers' Have Become Bastions of Indoctrination

Should Sicker Patients Pay More for Health Care?

It's Not Only Black Lives That Matter

The Democrats Might Want to Move to the Right

It Could Be That We Are in For a Long Four Years

Warren Buffet Might Have the Answer to Health Care Reform

You Have to Give up the Kool-aid to Find the Truth

Bashing Trump has been Personal from the Beginning

Gorsuch May Come Back to Bite the Democrats on the Butt

The Mayors Seem to Forget They are Not Rulers of Their Own Fiefdoms

The Republicans Just Couldn't Get Their Act Together

The Alarming Reach by the Federal Courts

Maybe I'm Becoming One of Those Conspiracy Nuts

Maybe It's Time to Let California Go

The Land of Opportunity. But for Whom, and at What Cost?

No More Mr. Nice Guy

The Health Care Debts We Must Prevent

When Social Disobedience Becomes a Habit

Don't Forget the Foundations of Health Care Delivery

The Difficulties in Providing Health Care Coverage to the Uninsured

The Underlying Concerns of Health Care Reformation

How Managed Care Threatens the Doctor/Patient Relationship

As the Feds Cover More, They Pay Doctors Less

How Third Party Payers Took Over

How Liability Concerns Shape Health Care Delivery

'Marketing' is Medicine's Double-Edged Sword

The Changing Role of the Health Care Professional

Is Medical Care a Right or a Privilege?

Clinton's Loss Was Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Maybe the KGB is in on It Too

A Relook at the Draft

Will President Trump Determine Hillary Clinton's Fate?

Our Illegal Immigrants Could Tip the Presidential Election

Stopping this Country's Descent into Mediocracy

Advice from Churchill and Lincoln

Trump's Gettysburg Address Should Serve as the Template

I Might Not Invite Trump Over for Dinner, but I'll Still vote for Him

When the Dust Settles

Economic Globalism May Be Setting Us Up for the Big Fall

Stripping the Presidential Candidates Down to Their Bare Bones

Is Donald Trump Racist?

The Democrats May Need Joe Biden Yet

Colin Kaepernick: A Poor Big Rich Kid?

How the Government Subsidies Will 'Break Our Bank'

It's Impossible That Hillary Doesn't Know

Are Gold Star Families Being Used to Pimp for the Political Parties?

If the Republicans Abolished Slavery, Why Do Most Blacks Vote Democratic?

Are the Police Racial Profiling?

Trying to Understand the Black Perspective

Will Obama Ever Get Beyond His Color?

A Takeover Without a Shot Being Fired

The Main Reason to Vote for Trump is Hillary Clinton

Two Black Men Who Had a Chance to Change the World

How the Opponents of Voter ID are Gaming the System

If Trump Wins It Will Be a Miracle...

Their Chance to Move Up has to Start by K1

If Obamacare Comes Off the Track

Political Correctness is Taking Over

The Real 'Donkey' in the Room That's Not Closing Our Borders

Should Our President 'Tighten His Belt'?

The Drug Epidemic is Symptomatic of Much Bigger Problems

Trump May Be a Visionary, but Is That Enough?

It's Not the Voters, Stupid. It's the Party!

There Will be Others after Bernie Sanders

Are 'Black Lives' Being Taken for a Ride?

Taking a Closer Look at John Kasich

Critiquing Ted Cruz

Who Will End Up Taking the Blame?

Dump Trump? Not So Fast!

I Don't Like Donald Trump, But ---

Maybe It's Time to Lighten Up on George W. Bush

Have the Clintons Permanently Tarnished the White House?

'Chasing the Ponytail'

The Silent Majority Had Better Speak Up

It Should Be about Who Has the Right to Vote

A New 'Centrist' Party--- It Could Happen

How Much Money Does This Country Really Owe?

Truth or Dare: Is Trump's Campaign for Real?

It Happened Without a Shot Being Fired

Is Uncle Sam the Refugees' Bogeyman?

Another Trudeau Takes Over in Canada

Are We Crazy? The Junior Varsity Is for Real

Capping Congressional Shenanigans

When Will the Senate Democrats Stop Cowing to Harry Reid?

The 'Hunger Games' Debate

October 26, 2015 : Why Not Just Tell the Truth?

October 19, 2015: One Election Away from a Possible Constitutional Convention

October 12, 2015: Sanctuary Cities Could Be Our Downfall

October 6, 2015: Is Donald Trump Presidential?

September 30, 2015: Facing the Real Threat of Terrorism

September 14, 2015: Have the Clintons Used Up Their Nine Lives?

September 8, 2015: Because of Trump, the Mongrel Dog Might Catch a Break

September 1, 2015: Is This Just Wag the Dog?

August 27, 2015: Where Are They Going To Get The Money?

August 10, 2015: Pushing for a National Police Force

August 3, 2015: The Only Solution to Illegal Immigration

July 27, 2015: What's So Great About Bernie Sanders?

July 20, 2015: Trying to Save the Middle East from Itself

July 13, 2015: What Difference Does It Make?

July 6, 2015: Maybe We Can Learn from the Lessons of ISIS

June 30, 2015: It's Time to Put the Confederate Flag to Rest

June 15, 2015: The President Has Already Decided on Global Warming for Us

June 8, 2015: This Century's Berlin Wall

June 2, 2015: Groveling for the Truth at the Trough

May 27, 2015: Would Our Forefathers Find Fault with Obama's Vision for America?

May 12, 2015: Do They Remind Us of the Thnardiers?

April 28, 2015: Why Politics and Religion Don't Mix

April 17, 2015: What It Takes to Have a 'Good' Marriage

April 13, 2015: We Live in One Big Infomercial

March 30, 2015: Our 'Kick It Down the Road' Generation

March 10, 2015: What Can President Obama Learn from Neville Chamberlin?

February 25, 2015: Are We Going to Look the Other Way, Again?

February 10, 2015: The Fall of the "American Empire"?

January 8, 2015: Physicians Desperately Need an American Medical Association

December 12, 2014: Doctors for Hire

November 24, 2014: Boondoggle?

November 3, 2014: 'Working for the Man'

October 10, 2014: Should Our "Squatters" Get a Free Ride?

September 10, 2014: The Crisis of Truth in the White House

August 11, 2014: A 'Fox' in the IRS's Henhouse

July 10, 2014: Houston: We Have Had a Problem!

June 10, 2014: The 'Perfect Storm' at the Veterans Administration

May 12, 2014: Border Boondoggle

April 30, 2014: The Reverend Jessie Jackson and Geronimo

April 21, 2014: The Surgeon General--- Wheres the Beef?

April 8, 2014: Complacency, Acceptance Then Dependency--- A Master Plan?

March 10, 2014: Does Bedside Manner Matter Anymore?

February 10, 2014: Outcome Measurements Could Be a Two-Edged Sword

January 10, 2014: It Always Seems to Boil Down to Politics

December 10, 2013: The End of the Shift or the Next Patient

November 11, 2013: Have We Given Up On Meaningful Dialogue?

October 11, 2013: Is This All Just About Obamacare?

September 10, 2013: Even the Lexicographers Have Noticed the Change

August 8, 2013: Where Did Physicians First Go Wrong?

July 10, 2013: It's Only a Matter of Time...

June 10, 2013: Maybe I Should Have Been a Veterinarian?

May 9, 2013: The Intangibles--- Why Paying Paying for Performance Won't Work

April 10, 2013: The Money Has to Come from Somewhere

March 11, 2013: Is Doing the Right Thing Pass?

February 11, 2013: What Would Hippocrates Do?

January 10, 2013: The Physicians' Vanishing Covenant

December 3, 2012: Where Is The Outrage?

November 19, 2012: Why Don't You Get In Line With Me?

October 29, 2012: Obamacare Has 'Thrown Our Seniors Under the Bus'

October 10, 2012: "I Don't Like Spinach"

September 10, 2012: The Widgets in Our Waiting Rooms

August 27, 2012: Once the Dust Settles

August 10, 2012: Same Song, Final Verse?

July 23, 2012: President Obama 1, President Clinton 0

July 10, 2012: Chief Justice Roberts' Decision Might Just Be a Stroke of Genius

June 11, 2012: The 1.5% Penalty

May 10, 2012: Groundhog Day---Our Boring Problems?

April 10, 2012: The Three Little 'Doctors'

March 9, 2012: Looking the Other Way

February 10, 2012: Mumble, Grumble, then Tumble

January 10, 2012: Thinking About Getting Out of Medicare? Think Again

December 12, 2011: Is Walmartcare the Answer?

November 10, 2011: Have Physicians Lost Their 'Shared Vision'?

October 10, 2011: Opt-In Versus Opt-Out: Petty or Important?

September 9, 2011: Whatever Happened to the 'Whole' Story?

August 10, 2011: Maybe This Wasn't George W. Bush's Recession?

July 11, 2011: Shotgun Medicine

June 10, 2011: Medicine's 'Tipping Point': What's Next?

May 10, 2011: Have Physicians Sold Their Souls?

April 11, 2011: Turf Battles, but on Whose Turf?

March 10, 2011: Death Panels: Probably Not------A Trojan Horse: Maybe

February 10, 2011: Individual Mandate: The Deeper Issues

January 10, 2011: What if There Were No AMA?

December 10, 2010: Birthright Citizenship: The Silent Costs

November 11, 2010: The State of the Medical Profession