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Mrs. Obama’s South Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers Over $500,000

First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to South Africa and Botswana last week cost taxpayers well over half a million dollars, possibly in the range of $700,000 or $800,000, according to an analysis by White House Dossier.

Many of the trip’s expenses cannot be obtained with specificity, including the cost of local transportation for the first lady, Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of staffers, and pre-trip advance work done by administration officials in South Africa.

But it is possible to estimate some of these costs and put a price tag on one of the major expenses – her transportation to and from southern Africa and her trips between cities there.

While the goals of her journey – “youth leadership, education, health and wellness” in southern Africa, according to the White House – are laudable, many may question whether such an expensive outreach overseas by the president’s wife is worthwhile given the threat of the ballooning federal debt to the economy.

This is particularly true given that the trip, while featuring many official events, also included tourist components such as visits to historical landmarks and museums, a nonworking chance to meet Nelson Mandela that Mrs. Obama described as “surreal,” and a safari. Mrs. Obama also brought along her mother, her daughters and two of their cousins – the children of her brother Craig Robinson.

In a conversation last week with a South African online newspaper, U.S. Embassy Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau made clear that the trip was partially a personal pilgrimage for the first lady.

“She’s coming on this trip to talk about women’s development and youth development, and South Africa is a leader in that, not only on the continent but globally,” said Trudeau. “A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family. She’ll be visiting many Struggle-era landmarks, including the Apartheid Museum (and) the Hector Pieterson Memorial.”

Based on the plane’s tail number and a description of it in a press pool report, it’s clear Mrs. Obama flew over and back on a C-32, a specially configured military version of the Boeing 757 that also ferries the vice president on occasion and is sometimes known as “Air Force Two.”

According to publicly available Defense Department figures, DOD charges other federal agencies $12,723 an hour to cover expenses for the use of a C-32. Based on the distance traveled and the flight speed of the plane, this adds up to about $430,000 for use of the aircraft alone.

Perhaps the best estimate of the other costs involved in such a trip comes not from official sources but from a reporter, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post. In a 2002 article, he wrote that his reporting had found that a single presidential fundraising trip within the United States by then-President George W. Bush could cost close to $100,000 for items like staff, Secret Service and advance work.

While the first lady would certainly have a smaller retinue than a president, it seems very safe to say that a weeklong trip by Mrs. Obama to a high-crime country like South Africa would involve at least the expense of a single domestic trip by a president ten years ago, and probably much more.

In addition, a military cargo plane typically accompanies a first lady on overseas trips to bring cars and other gear. It is not clear if a cargo plane also went along on this trip, but if it did – as is likely – it could easily have added another $200,000 to the cost, based on Defense Department rates for cargo planes.

Mrs. Obama’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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455 Responses to Mrs. Obama’s South Africa Trip Cost Taxpayers Over $500,000

  1. People, we have to kick these morons out of OUR white house. They just don’t get it! We could have used that money to pay down the debt but instead we all paid for another vacation for this family and for a woman who said two years ago that “For the first time in her life she is proud of this country”.

    Down and out with the obamas in 2012!!!

  2. Aha ! The light goes on !! Have been trying to find the sacrifices made by the first family that has been requested from ALL Americans. Finally solved it — although the Obama’s have over $12 million dollars in assets — over $11 million is in stocks and retirement funds — they must take fewer vacations to less showy areas and fewer golf games to private clubs. There !! Found it !! Oh, yes — they must also use taxpayers’ money because theirs is tied up !

    Sigh — relief at last !

    • No, we’re not jealous we’re flat broke, bankrupt, busted, cleaned out. Time to take away the credit cards. She needs to spend some time tending that garden she loves to pretend she works in.

    • Not jealous at all. To be in their shoes, one would have to associate with the same people they do — OTHER politicians. That is a far worse punishment than any honest American deserves.

  3. Instead of posh hotels, we should of paid for a sweat lodge for her fat a$$. I am sure this trip was well over a million dollars. Don’t forget that they were going on a safari with her family. What would it cost us as citizens to go on a safari with just one other person? Over $10,000. Now do that cost with more people & all the staffers & secret service people. Obamma plays golf just about every damn day, how much does that cost us?

  4. Obama is a Marxist so this should be no surprise. No different then his Bolshevik predecessors he: starts off in the streets “community organizing” but as soon as hes elected its nothing but palaces, fancy trips, opulent dinners, nepotism for the family, and pandering to the banker class – all at taxpayer expense of course.

    Of course for the rubes: daddy government feels your pain – so whose up for some 18-hole!? its Monday!

  5. Doesn’t your employer pay for exotic vacations for your wife, children, mother-in-law and cousins? No, Mine either! At the very least, the Mother-in-law and cousins should provide their own commercial transportation, accomodations and meals. We the people owe them nothing!

  6. Here is a thought. How about Michelle VIDEO CONFERENCE! How much would that save taxpayers? Put her up on a big theater screen or on TV. Come on now!

  7. WAS THIS TRIP NECESSARY. THIS MAN , WIFE AND FAMILY ARE ABUSING THE SYSTEM. WITH ALL MONEY THAT WE GIVE TO AFRICA ITIS A DISASTROUS COUNTRY LOADED WITH THIEVES WO STEAL AND DO NOT USE WITH THE PEOPLE

  8. They stayed at one of the most exclusive hotels,ah yes,nothing like bonding with the little people. I guess the mud huts were all full up.

  9. don’t forget when the debt ceiling talks broke down last thursday

    BARRY WAS TOO BUSY TO SHOW UP
    HE DID 3 FUNDRAISERS IN NY AND… AND… AND…. TOOK IN A BROADWAY PLAY

    A.B.O. – 2012
    ANYBODY BUT OBAMA

    I MADE THE BUMPER STICKERS AND CAN’T KEEP THEM IN STOCK

  10. No wonder Obama wants to raise our taxes… his family isn’t done traveling and golf course fees aren’t dropping!
    Obama needs to lead by example and show financial constraint in his leadership (or failure there of) and in his (families) daily life. Everyone else in America has to… Perhaps this is why Michelle Obama is finally proud to be an American!

  11. I find that the way Michelle spends the American’s money is irresponsible and deliberate. The longer Obama is in office the more spending she will do. So please vote him out in Nov. 2012.

    Sandy

  12. I am sick of Repubs and Dems spending OUR Money like it belongs to them.

    Why did’nt Obamas pay for her own trip????
    What the hell is going on in the Black House.

    This is a blatant disrecpt for the American people in a time of Financial crisis.

    Sorry Obamas your not entitled to do anything you want at our expense.

    When are we Marching on Washington to take back what is WE THE PEOPLES.

    Viva La Revolution

  13. Good God. Doesn’t she know we are broke. In business we have to fill out a trip report. In Government they take sightseeing trips. This bunch is just on a see the world campaign. This is crazy. No accountability here–just 4 years (hopefully) world traveling and playing all the golf courses. And Clyburn says the President has more important things to do besides work on the budget. A budget, by the way, they didn’t even do all last year. Lest’s get some adults in there in 2012.

  14. How much did she spend in Spain?

    Why are we even bothering giving a salary to the President?
    We can just give him blank checks from Ft Knox and make it official.

    I dont know of any other person on earth that takes single vacations that are worth more than even 20% of their annual salary. But yet, she takes vacations that are 200% more than their annual salary??

    She does not care, because its not her money.

    She should not be having any of these trips!

    South Africa, Spain, how many millions and millions of taxpayer US$ will she spend all by herself?

  15. Well, why not? This is what the Obamas do. Spend like drunks, and it accomplishes zip, zero, nada. They is all they know how to do. Having
    expensive parties at the WH, with expensive and exotic food, and inviting
    entertainment to entertain them.

  16. When the Democrats have finally spent every dime that we can print or borrow to buy votes and the unsustainable bloated pensions and welfare are no longer paid-guess who will be the first one’s to riot in the streets? Everyone that’s been sucking on the government teat will be in the streets and it won’t be pretty. A revolution is unavoidable in this country, but we have a choice. It can either be a violent revolution, with all the people who depend upon government subsidies of some kind, taking to the streets and bringing the country into chaos and anarchy. Or, it can be a relatively peaceful revolution by not electing ANY Democrats to ANYTHING in 2012. It will hurt some people, but our country will stop the rush to socialism and get back to the freedom, opportunity, and progress that a capitalistic society can and has produced. We either make an about face and put this country back on the founder’s intended track, or, we continue until all is busted and the streets are filled with rioters and looters. Our choice.

  17. the obama’s are looting what they can before he’s tossed out in 2012., better count the silverware.and they are going to rub it in our faces,everyday.

  18. 1) Is there a comparison with the trips other First Ladies have taken? 2) Many of the expenses he sites are likely to have been paid for by the Obama’s privately 3) Adding Secret Service protection is misleading. This is protection to the Office of the First Lady, not the individual(s), that is 24/7 independent of any travel. Smells like a amateur hatchet job.

    • Which expenses do you believe the Obamas paid for themselves? Do you have any confirmation of this information, say, from the White House, or is this just your guess?

    • It isn’t a hatchet job. First of all, does it really matter what was done in the past? We’re talking about the here and now. Secondly, show me where she paid a red cent for the tour of Spain last year and I’ll believe she is paying for this trip. Thirdly, she wouldn’t need as much Secret Service coverage if she had stayed home, so the extra expense should be taken into consideration.

      This country is in deep trouble. The Democrats are spending like drunken sailors and the Republicans are too lilly-livered to tell them to knock it off. These people are living the lives of the rich and famous while America suffers. Worst of all, they are enjoying our suffering.

    • If these pillagers HAD payed for any portion of this out of their own pockets, the MSM would be parading that all over the known universe.

      • As a matter of fact, in a vain attempt to become electable, I hereby predict that BO and family will soon splash onto the MSM with some form of amazing show of benevolence.

  19. How can so many “Americans” support these criminals; parting at our expense as they dismantle America to fulfill their sick liberal fantasies.

  20. It’s time to stop this nonsense. Michelle is NOT an elected government official. Bill the Obama campaign for this amount which is actually abot 50% of actual costs.

    If they don’t pay sue Obama and his wife and kick them out of the White House. Let them live in their Chicago mansion paid for by Convict REZKO.

  21. Sounds like the Obama’s much like the rest of American’s planned their summer vacations at the kitchen table. The only difference is that true American’s in an Obama world are spending $498,000 less and that’s predicated upon the citizen’s employment status. I also say if folks believe this trip only cost $500,000 then I have a new fresh with change you can believe in presidential candidate I wanna sell ya by the name of Barack Obama. If $500,000 purchases two seats at an Obama supporting Hollywood liberal’s poker game then this trip was closer to $3million. Did you have nice time with the tax payer credit card Michelle? Good that’s the only thing that counts until you can begin spending a little of that post presidency money beginning in 2013.

  22. The entire obama family has shown such lack of respect for AMERICANS …by their constant and elaborate vacations..it’s disgusting!
    People are losing jobs, homes and livelyhood, and these people dont miss the chance to lavish in the lap of luxury at our expense. They are a disgrace to this country and I cant believe that They keep scheduling vacation after vacation, when our country is crumbling before our eyes. How can we raise any debt ceiling, when they are the ones causing our debt to increase?? This trip Didnt need to happen! and it should have never taken place!

  23. Would there be anything different in the USA if she stayed home and saved the strapped taxpayers $800,000,000. I think not.
    It was a complete waste of money that we will have to borrow from China to cover the expense

  24. I wonder how much she’s spent on the public interest about which she bloviated during the 2008 campaign: military families.

  25. Another welfare family exercising their God-given right to travel on government provided aircraft, eat government provided food, and reside in government provided hotels.

  26. Matthew
    The 8 beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 during the Sermon on the Mount are stated as Blessed are:[3][2]
    Blessed arepoor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:3)
    Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. (5:4)
    Blessed the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (5:5)
    Blessed they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (5:6)
    Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (5:7)
    Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (5:8)
    Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (5:9)
    Blessed they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10)

  27. According to reports the Obama’s had a combined income last year of about $6 million. Michelle Antoinette Obama should have paid for the trip out of her own pocket instead of fleecing the taxpayers for yet another one of this corrupt administrations little vacations.
    I spit on the Democrats. Ptui ! And on the mainstream media for not calling the Obama’s out on this and shaming them into writing a big check to the treasury to pay the taxpayers back.

  28. I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t be so pissed off about these trips if she took along some staff only. But when you read about the mom the girls and cousins it’s pretty off putting.

    That and this little tidbit “A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family. She’ll be visiting many Struggle-era landmarks…” F*(k you lady.

    I’d like to visit Italy and Scotland to experience some of my background culture. Maybe you could have waited until AFTER you set yourselves up to be future millionaires on the shoulders of the US taxpayer to go see your struggle era landmarks?

    • Her ancestors didn’t come from South Africa, so it’s hard for me to see what this has to do with the Obamas as a family.

      Unless they’re just enjoying their Rev. Wright-cultivated hatred for people who are not caucasian. I mean, really, what does South Africa’s history have to do personally with Michelle Antoinette and her mother, children, and niece and nephew?

  29. Ok why does this parasite have an office she was not elected to anything and no one wants to hear from her. Who’s paying for the office? We can only hope they are eaten by headhunters or sold into slavery down there

  30. Here I thought Pelosi was bad with her $100k+ Copenhagen trip on the taxpayers dime. Obama’s know their days are numbered, so they’re squeezing out as much spending as they can while they’re still in power, just as the democratic Congress did before the midterm elections. Its really pathetic.

  31. So, $500,000 flushed down the Moochell toilet with no return on the investment. If that money had gone to the national debt, it would have produced some return. Or, if that money had been given to some African charity, it would have produced some worthwhile return. But no, it went to Moochell taking a vacation to Africa and flapping her lips and feeding her face with fried foods. Way to come through Moochell!!! Now just stay there in Africa and invite your hubby to join you as well – we don’t need either of you back here in America!

  32. now that i read this report on mbo i guess i won’t be buying that dozen of eggs i was saving up for for a breakfast treat for myself. seeing how the taxpayers have to ponyup for her trip. what is wrong with america putting up with this obama crap. i sure hope we don’t have another four years of this family spending.

  33. I think that number is really low. I read another report on another site yesterday that says it is more like closer to $1M per day or more.

    Let’s see . . . Bushes helped people with AIDS by their trips. In fact the only President who REALLY helped Africa with their AIDS epidemic. In fact, Laura and her girls actually worked . . . you know, like not using trips as photo ops.

  34. So if Obama is worried about “immoral” budget cutting maybe he should pay some attention to Michelle’s Marie Antoinette routine –

  35. So basiscally you have NO information about how much the trip cost. You just hate the President so you thought it would be cute to guess at a number.

    Mr. Koffler, you should take a journalism class. As it is, you’re a hack.

  36. I understand the need to educate one’s children about their ancestors but would the Obama children gone to Africa on their own dime if their dad wasn’t president. With the office still comes fiscal responsibility not jetting ones children around while taxpayers are footing the bill. Maybe I missed something in article that Mrs Obama raised her expenses at the fund raiser. Just wondering This would be great incentive to get out there and be a fund raiser myself to pay for great trips