I'll HAPPILY PAY YOUR SHARE
Oh, I'm so happy to see The New York Times dignifying this nonsense:
Watchdog Group Discloses Cost of First Lady's Vacation
Michelle Obama's summer vacation to Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers more than $467,000 in transportation and security expenses, according to a watchdog group that obtained federal records.
The disclosure came at a time when Republicans were already pressing President Obama about billing trips to the government that seem campaign-oriented. Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, called on the president Thursday to reimburse taxpayers for this week's trip to three battleground states....
Can we just stop right here and do some grade-school math? There are 313,435,217 Americans as I type this, according to the Census Bureau. That means every American's share of that $497,000 is ... less than a penny. A lot less than a penny. Somewhere between one tenth and two tenths of a penny. (My calculator says 0.1585654202975 of a penny.)
This has been bugging me since I started hearing about the horrible, appalling, ghastly GSA junket that became a huge story for days and will probably be talked about at least until November. The cost? $823,000. The cost per American? 0.262574195675019 of a penny.
Should the government avoid waste? Should agencies like the GSA avoid embarrassing themselves? Sure. But have a little perspective, please: this isn't costing you all that freaking much.
Was taxpayer-funded travel invented in the Obama administration? Of course not. George W. Bush made 77 trips to Crawford, Texas, during his presidency, and you paid. What about election-year presidential travel that's ostensibly presidential but suspiciously political? Well, here's a USA Today article from June 2004, when George W. Bush sought reelection:
President Bush is using Air Force One for re-election travel more heavily than any predecessor, wringing maximum political mileage from a perk of office paid for by taxpayers.
While Democratic rival John Kerry digs into his campaign bank account to charter a plane to roam the country, Bush often travels at no cost to his campaign simply by declaring a trip "official" travel rather than "political."
The 68,000 miles Bush has logged this year on Air Force One include five trips to Pennsylvania.
With rare exceptions, he confines his travels to the more than a dozen states he and Kerry are fighting hardest for, and to places where he is raising campaign money.
Even when the White House deems a trip as political, the cost to Bush's campaign is minimal. In such instances, the campaign must only pay the government the equivalent of a comparable first-class fare for each political traveler on each leg, Federal Election Commission guidelines say.
Usually, that means paying a few hundred or a few thousand dollars for the president and a handful of aides. It's a minuscule sum, compared to the $56,800-per-hour the Air Force estimates it costs to run Air Force One....
So, really, enough already.
(X-posted at Booman Tribune.)
UPDATE: Whoops, sorry -- the Daily Caller tells me that the exact cost of Michelle Obama's trip was $467,585. But now the Census Bureau estimates the U.S. population as 313,435,714. So that's, um ... 0.149180511963267 of a penny per person.