Thursday, April 26, 2012

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.

11 comments:

unclemike said...

Whenever I bring up the hypocrisy of complaining about Obama's trips but remaining silent about Bush's jaunts to "clear brush" every other week, I get the right-wing's idea of a trump card: "But Bush was working at the ranch!"

I know he's not clearing brush and ignoring security memos about Bin Laden, but I don't quite get why they think Obama also doesn't work when he's on "vacation."

Unless it's because he's bla--

Oh.

Victor said...

testing... testing...

Victor said...

HOLY SH*T!

I can finally comment again!
That might make some people very unhappy.

WHAAAA HAPPEN?
All of a sudden, my laptop's letting me comment here?

On the subject of Obama and his trips, I think it bothers the idjit Conservatives that he goes on vacations to Hawaii - you know, the country right next to Kenya!

PS: Steve, you've been on fire the last few months. GREAT stuff!

Victor said...

Now I have to figure out how to comment as 'c u n d gulag,' instead of my real first name.

c u n d gulag said...

Testing 2...

c u n d gulag said...

HOLY SH*T!

I can finally comment again!
That might make some people very unhappy.

WHAAAA HAPPEN?
All of a sudden, my laptop's letting me comment here?

On the subject of Obama and his trips, I think it bothers the idjit Conservatives that he goes on vacations to Hawaii - you know, the country right next to Kenya!

PS: Steve, you've been on fire the last few months. GREAT stuff!

Steve M. said...

Thanks -- and welcome back!

c u n d gulag said...

Thanks, Steve, it's good to be home.

I always thought of your site and maha's as the places I felt most at home.

Steve M. said...

Awww, you're too kind.

Erik A. Prince said...

This is the sort of hypocrisy that makes my head feel like it's going to explode. They are the first family. Going to the Kennedy Center costs more money in transpo and security than a family flying in from NY! It's the nature of the beast. This is no outrage ... unless you are a Republican trying to unseat a Democratic President, anyway.

Erik

sarah lee said...

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