The $7 million price tag for President Obama’s most recent Hawaii vacation could pay the salaries of about 160 teachers for a full year.
Obama Tuesday sought to dramatize the potential effects of the sequester by surrounding himself with more than a dozen first responders whom he said would be “degraded” in their ability to do their jobs while alleging “thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off” and critical government functions like prosecuting criminals would be damaged with criminals filling the streets.
He suggested Republicans would be to blame, even though he originally insisted on the sequester and must be party to any deal.
At an average salary of about $44,000 a year, Obama could have taken care of about 160 teachers by skipping his vacation – and nearly that number by simply vacationing a little closer to home.
That’s because some $6 million of the $7 million expense of Obama’s trip was due to the use of Air Force One, which he hopped aboard not once, but twice, to journey roundtrip to Oahu. If he’d choppered to Camp David or one of the beautiful resorts in the mountains of Virginia or West Virginia – or even just flown to Florida if he and Michelle required tropical weather – he would have paid scores of teachers’ salaries.
The estimate of another $1 million for Hawaii trip costs like staff, security, local travel and the use of cargo planes is almost certainly low.
Obama’s annual Hawaii idyll was more expensive than usual this year because he chose to return to paradise after suspending his vacation and traveling back to Washington to deal with the fiscal cliff.
Should any of those first responders on the dais have been in danger of losing their jobs, Obama’s vacation cost could have taken care of them all plus dozens more, since first responders make only about $35,000 a year.
In describing the potential cutbacks, Obama painted a dire picture:
Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country.
Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.
What’s unclear is why, when the administration makes the cuts, vital services such as these would be hit so hard. Obama has not delineated how he would apportion the cuts. Presumably he would focus on less-critical spending and waste.