Sunday, December 18, 2011
As recession-weary Americans become accustomed to Saturday stay-cations and Wal-Mart lay-away, President Obama and his family, will jet off for their increasingly expensive annual Christmas vacay in Hawaii.
The biggest expense is President Barack Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One, a cost the GAO office estimated at $1 million in the year 2000. Contacted today, the GAO confirmed there is no report the independent office affiliated with Congress has prepared since 2000 to operate Air Force One and Air Force Two.
However, the U.S. Air Force provides the most current numbers of $181,757 per flight hour. Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.
The cost for USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii was not made available. However, the flight time between Andrews Air Force Base and Hawaii is at about 21.5 hours round-trip, with estimated operating cost of $12,000 per hour. (Source: GAO report, updated by C-17 crew member). The United States Marine Corps provides a presidential helicopter, along with pilots and support crews for the test flights, which travel on another C-17 flight. That is $258,000, not including costs for the 4 to 6 member crew’s per diem and hotel.
Mrs. Obama’s early flight to Hawaii costs about $63,000 (White House Dossier), but add security and personnel for a total of about $100,000.
The President and his family pay for their own beachfront rental (they are not staying in the Winter White House this year but rather a house on the same street further to the ocean point).
The Kailua rentals are fronted by the ocean and backed by a canal. So, the taxpayers must cover the costs for housing U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Seals in beach front and canal front homes in Kailua.
That costs about $1,200 a day ($200 allocated per bedroom per day). Since security arrives one day early, homes are rented for 18 days.
That is about $21,600 per home for approximately 7 houses rented at a total cost of $151,200 for security to stay nearby.
The President’s staff and White House Press Corps stay at one of Hawaii’s oldest and most elegant hotels, the Moana Surfrider. Hawaii Reporter confirmed they are again staying there this year. Besides its stunningly beautiful view of Waikiki, and its traditional architecture, it is one of the most pricey hotels in the state.
Government rates are $177 per night, but that only is available during certain times a year.
Rooms typically start at $250 but can cost on average as much as $450 a night, and are even higher during the holidays. Hotel spokeswoman Marsha Weinert said she could “neither confirm nor deny” the president’s staff is staying there.
A conservative estimate with rooms at the government rate of $177 per day (excluding a 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax and a 4.712 percent General Excise Tax on each bill, meals, internet charges and other charges) means the taxpayers are covering more than $72,216 in hotel bills for an estimated 24 staff.
LOCAL TAXPAYER COSTS: $260,000
Local police over time for the president’s visit has historically cost Oahu taxpayers $250,000 but may be more expensive this year with the extended vacation.
The city ambulance the accompanies the president 24 hours a day through his entire visit is $10,000, according to city spokeswoman Louise Kim McCoy.
No one would seek to deny Mr. Obama down time with his family over the Christmas holiday but, at a time of economic uncertainty, when as many as 50% of the American people are defined as “low income or poor,” and the U.S. is faced with a national debt of more than $16 trillion dollars, it seems unseemly to spend $4 million dollars for a 2 1/2 week holiday in Hawaii.