Amazingly, 24 hours after we published Why won’t the White House answer the question? the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) provided a response to our FOIA request. Whether by coincidence, or out of embarrassment, a mere 21 days after our request we have learned the answer to the question of how much a round of golf for President Obama costs.
Just to review, before we present the verbatim response of the OMB, the mission of this Government Agency is
"OMB is the largest component of the Executive Office of the President. It reports directly to the President and helps a wide range of executive departments and agencies across the Federal Government to implement the commitments and priorities of the President."
Golf is a priority for President Obama. With more than 115 rounds played in just over 4 years, in the company of Tiger Woods no less, there is no question that the President is an avid duffer. We do not question the need of the President to enjoy time away from the stress of running Government, nor are we questioning the amount of time he spends playing golf. The only question being asked is the cost that taxpayers are covering.
With 21 days to research, and a staff of an unknown number of Government employees, the net response on April 17, 2013 was as follows:
Dear Mr. Vass,
This responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) dated march 26, 2013, which was received on March 27, 2013, and assigned tracking number 2013-104. Your FOIA seeks "...details of the cost, per round of golf and/or in total, for President Obama to play golf since January 1, 2009." In addition you requested, "the same figures for President G.W. Bush golf outings from January 1, 2001 to December 31, 2008."
In response to your FOIA request, OMB conducted a search of its files for documents that are responsive to the request and no records responsive to your request were identified.
If you consider this response to be a denial of your request, you may file an administrative appeal in accordance with OMB's FOIA regulations at 5 C.F.R. 1303.
So let's look at this step by step.
The OMB did not deny that, as stated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), they are the agency that would have the records requested. Further, the OMB did not cite any law or regulation that would prevent disclosure of the information requested. Thus we made the FOIA request of the right people, and the information is essentially public domain.
Based on the response, and the fact that 21 days passed before response, there does not exist a single record of the cost for President Obama, or President Bush for that matter, playing golf. No receipts, no records of hourly wages for staff, no cost of gasoline for transportation, no cost of guests like Tiger Woods. Not even a record of the cost of a single golf ball used by the President (which assuredly is emblazoned with the White House symbol).
So that would mean either the President was comped and played for free, without a single taxpayer dime being used - which is absurd - or someone paid all the costs associated with the President playing 115 rounds of golf. There is of course the third option that the OMB is so inefficient that it cannot determine the cost of a round of golf, over an entire term of a Presidency, for any President ever.
The argument can be made that golf courses, and even guests, would readily absorb the cost for the President to play at their location. It's big advertising to say that the President birdied this or that hole. There is almost no one, even for those that vehemently disagree with the policies of the President, that would turn down an invitation from the White House. So that could all be taxpayer-free money. But it is unlikely. Especially 115 times.
Even if it were absolutely the case, what about employees. Staff get paid hourly, and not everyone that would be at such an event would be without overtime benefits. Taking it to the extreme to say that every member of the staff at such an event were salaried employees of the Government (Secret Service are exempt from all of this) there was no cost to the Government for transportation? Air Force One, the Presidential Limo? They all are running on some super secret "green" energy fuel that requires no cost, ever?
So that is incomprehensible. Which leaves us with the next option, who else could have paid for it? Imagine the influence that any corporation, or political group would have if they covered the cost from donuts to jet fuel. If it only cost $1,000 a round (which is inconceivable) that's $115,000 in spending that special interest X would like a return on. What might they get in return. Where are all the Government watchdog groups that look out for this kind of influence peddling?
Lastly, we are left with the thought that the OMB is so irresponsible that it cannot read an accounting book and transcript the notations. Even the most ardent detractor of Government cannot begin to believe that is true.
Thus we are back where we started. No answers from the people that have the answer. A White House that is determined to avoid the issue at all costs. Plus the nagging question of why this is such a big secret. Somehow we believe that Senator Obama wasn't preaching this kind of transparency while on the campaign trail in 2008.
You might say this is not a big deal. But the New York Times doesn't have the answer. Nor the Wall Street Journal. The Washington Post has zilch. Name the organization and you get nada. Even ABC News, that started this whole thing, remains oblivious to the truth. Now imagine if President Bush tried to keep such an issue away from the Press. Imagine what else is being obfuscated and distracted from public declaration.
FOIA is meant as a way to keep the average American connected to what Government is doing. It is meant as a means to allow the public to keep an eye on Government, a means to prevent abuses of power and retard corruption. Yet an issue that is as close to national security as Pluto is to the Sun remains enshrouded in mystery.
The only conclusion that can be derived is that President Obama plays golf for free, and that there is fantastic beachfront property available in the Mohave Desert. Even the Far Left should be disturbed.