In a move that is rich in irony, President Obama agreed Tuesday night to sign an emergency deficit reduction bill that does almost nothing to rein in spending and then jetted out to Hawaii to resume his vacation at an extra cost of more than $3 million to taxpayers.
The price tag is in addition to more than $4 million that is already being spent on the Obamas’ Hawaii idyll, bringing the total cost of the excursion to well over $7 million.
The added cost was incurred because by the time the Obamas return from Hawaii – whenever that is – the president will have used Air Force One to travel to Honolulu and back twice.
Obama was forced to return from Hawaii just after Christmas to complete negotiations to avoid the Fiscal Cliff, talks resulting in the bill that was passed by Congress last night. Obama resisted significant spending cuts throughout the negotiations, and the final legislation relies almost solely a new taxes to reduce the deficit.
Air Force One is known to cost about $180,000 an hour to fly. Based on an estimated 18 hours roundtrip flying time for the jet between Washington and Honolulu, the travel cost alone of Obama’s decision to return to Hawaii amounts to around $3.24 million. And that doesn’t include the price tag for the massive security operation required to move the president or the cost of the cargo plane that follows Air Force One around.
The Obamas could have saved taxpayers millions by returning from Hawaii together after Christmas and then resuming their vacation at one of the many ritzy resorts that lie outside of Washington. If the beach is a must, even a trip to Florida would have been far less expensive.
Or they could have simply stayed at the White House or Camp David, each a luxurious government-run installation, billing taxpayers a relative pittance.
Obama will get a full day of vacation in today, landing in Hawaii early in the morning.