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Obama travel plans should include Skype, Camp David and "immediate family"

Taxpayer nightmare - Michelle, the kids and the mother-in-law on "holiday"
Taxpayer nightmare - Michelle, the kids and the mother-in-law on "holiday"
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President Barack Obama and his family are well-known for their lavish vacations. They travel abroad and domestically at will with apparent abandon to what it costs the U.S. taxpayers.

Last Wednesday, Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act, did some tabulating on the enormous cost of each of these trips they chose to break down.

For instance, the president, first lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, traveled to Africa last summer and then to Honolulu over the winter. The cost of Air Force One alone came to $15,888,585, according to Judicial Watch.

The African flights in 2012 and 2013 came to 35.5 hours at a cost of $228,288 an hour, totaling $8,104,224. In addition, the family’s flights on Air Force One for their 17-day Christmas vacation to Honolulu between December 2013 and January 2014 totaled 36.9 hours at a cost of $210,877 an hour, adding up to $7,781,361.

For shorter flights for last year’s family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, the total came to $1,164,268.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement, "The costs to taxpayers of President Obama’s travel, especially his luxury vacation travel, are beyond the pale. And the secrecy surrounding these costs shows that Obama’s vows of transparency are rubbish."

More outrageous is Michelle Obama’s trip to China that just concluded. This trip not only included her two daughters, but also her mother. The trip was billed as “part tourism and part diplomacy.”

The trip itself was all U.S. taxpayer not part.

The announced cost of this trip has not been revealed. Ironically, a similar trip's cost to China planned by Vice President Joe Biden last year was deemed "prohibitive."

It is not just the enormous expense of sending Michelle Obama, the kids and sometimes the mother on these trips that is galling. The Obama family, minus Barack and plus his mother-in-law had been staying at Beijing’s five-star Westin Chaoyang Hotel in the presidential suite, which carries a price tag of about $8,400 per night.

The first lady had told the media prior to their departure that she had “always dreamed as a child of going to China.” The problem is it was done on other people's dime with no actual/legitimate agenda that benefited her responsibilities to the American people.

That can be said about trips to Spain, Aspen, etc.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation revealed earlier this month that President Obama has spent more time traveling internationally than any other modern president at an eye-opening expense to taxpayers.

For instance, in the report released last Monday, the president started a five-day, five-country trip to Europe and the Middle East. The survey says that Obama has taken 31 foreign trips totaling 119 days since assuming office in 2009.

What was the actual percentage of these trips that were necessary?

The cost of the Europe/Saudi Arabia trip is still unknown, but with Obama being accompanied by 900 staff and security personnel as well as 45 vehicles and three cargo planes, it won’t be a trip to the grocery store.

No one is saying the president doesn't have the most important office in the land, but in this day and age, “touchy-feely” presidential trips are not always something that translates into affordable and productive trips for the taxpayer’s wallet.

Someone needs to teach the president the taxpayer-friendly value of Skype, government-funded Camp David outside Washington and what "immediate family" means.

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