On March 11, real estate tycoon and reality television star Donald Trump announced he would be willing to cover the costs to the federal government of continuing White House tours that were eliminated last week by President Barack Obama as part of the mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration, according to a report on the Politico.com website.
Trump appeared by telephone on the morning television program “Fox and Friends” on the Fox News Channel. When the hosts asked him to respond to a suggestion from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on his Twitter account that Trump pay for the costs of continuing the White House tours, the billionaire mogul said he would be willing.
The media savvy Trump cited the cancellation of the White House tours as a political tactic by President Barack Obama while also agreeing to Newt Gingrich’s idea of paying the $74,000 a week cost of keeping the visits open to the American public when he said:
“I think it’s so nice of Newt to suggest that. I don’t know anything about it, I'm hearing about it for the first time. I like Newt a lot. I didn’t hear this, but it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?”
On Friday night, March 8, Newt Gingrich tweeted his suggestion that high-profile Obama critic Donald Trump could pay for the tours as a public relations move to show that Republicans care more about college students and younger generations, by tweeting:
“Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students”
The cost of the White House tours is estimated to be $2 million for the rest of the 2013 fiscal budget year which ends on September 30. That amount averages out to be around $74,000 a week for the costs of paying 37 uniformed Secret Service agents at a rate of $50 an hour for 40-hour workweeks to provide security for the tours of the East Wing of the White House, according to a report on CNN’s website.
Trump cited President Barack Obama playing a political game to pin blame on Republicans over effects of the sequester cuts by making pain from the reductions more perceptible to average citizens when he told Monday’s “Fox and Friends” audience:
“I guess it’s political. They want to hurt the people… If you look at what’s going on, I guess they’re trying to make a political point. It’s just really ridiculous. I don’t think it’s a big deal, frankly. But it does make us look awfully bad and awfully pathetic.”
Republican lawmakers introduced an amendment to the 2013 Continuing Resolution spending bill last week to cut funds from President Obama’s White House account that allow the president to fly on Air Force One to golf courses until the White House tours are restored.
The amendment was discarded by House Republicans at the request of Speaker John Boehner under a closed-rule vote on the spending resolution. Conservative blogger and Fox News analyst Erick Erickson criticized the move by the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives as a trick used to disengage from spending battles with President Obama.
It seems Donald Trump is willing to pay for the White House tours, although he did not stipulate that President Obama will have to give up golf as part of the deal.
The effort, however, may well end up being in vein as the suggestion for the White House to accept private donations for the tours was preemptively shot down on March 8.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters asking about the legality of offers from prominent Republicans to privately fund the tours:
“My guess is that it's not. And the reason for that is the sequester mandates across-the-board, non-strategic, indiscriminate cuts to the budget. It allows very little, if any, flexibility for those who are administering the budget. And it means agency heads are put in a very difficult position of choosing between two bad options.”
Clearly, President Barack Obama and his associates have no interest in making the transition to lower government spending easy. They seem to prefer making it painful and difficult in an effort to put pressure on Republicans to restore the higher spending levels that existed before President Obama’s sequester began on March 1.
Steven Holmes is the Los Angeles Political Buzz Examiner.