BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – President Barack Obama and his family have taken a $4 million vacation in Kailua, Hawaii, each Christmas, since 2008, courtesy of the nation’s taxpayers.
According to a new book – “Presidential Perks Gone Royal” –by Author Robert Keith Gray, Hawaii Reporter’s investigation into the vacation expenses on the island of Oahu merely scratches the surface of the $1.4 billion the taxpayers spend in just one year for transportation, housing, staffing, security and entertainment for President Obama and first family.
Gray, who worked within the White House under three presidents and had close ties with two more, notes that while other presidents have taken advantage of perks, the amount of money spent on the first family has risen substantially under the Obama administration, and must be brought under control.
Gray also notes the inequity of taxpayer dollars being spent by Obama for his re-election effort by using Air Force One to travel between campaign stops.
Some of the examples of presidential perks that are highlighted in Gray’s book:
- There are 26 cabin crewmembers and five chefs on Air Force One.
- The president’s dog gets its own high-paid staffer, who is always on duty, paid an annual salary of $102,000 last year.
- On at least one airline flight, Bo the dog and his handler were only passengers aboard.
- The president has a full-time movie projectionist in the White House theater who sleeps at the White House and is on duty 24 hours a day in case anyone needs to see a movie.
- First Lady Michelle Obama spent more than 42 days on vacation in one year with security, travel and accommodations paid for by taxpayers.
- And because the president can appoint high-paid staffers without Senate confirmation, Obama has 469 senior staffers and 43 “czars.”
- 226 are paid more than $100,000 a year, and 77 are paid as much as $172,000 per year.
- In 2009, Gray said the military payroll at Camp David was $8 million and were put there serve the First Family and its guests.
“The British spent $57.8 Million on its royal family last year. We Americans spent nearly $2 Billion housing, transporting, entertaining, staffing, our First Family and paying a hefty portion of the president’s campaign expenses,” Gray said.
Gray notes that responsible citizens want the President to be “safe, comfortable and happy” but he maintains the “unchecked growth of out-of control perks, bestowed on this duly elected official without oversight by any individual or governing body, are a dangerous surrender of the democratic process because the seated president has a virtually insurmountable re-election advantage over his opponent.”
Gray said what he discovered during his research for this book led him to view the Obama lifestyle and administration as “our presidency going royal.”
Gray asks: “With our current president’s billion- dollar lifestyle, can we reasonably expect a president to identify with the real-world problems of his citizens, when tens of millions of them are currently unemployed?”
See more about the book on Amazon