BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – President Barack Obama’s decision to rejoin his family on their Hawaii vacation will cost taxpayers another $3.2 million for an already pricey holiday stay.
After arriving in Hawaii on December 22, Obama left First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia on December 26 to return to Washington DC to continue negotiations with Congress to avoid a “fiscal cliff.”
After Congress reached an agreement this week, Obama opted to return to Hawaii, landing at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu just before 5 a.m. January 2.
The First Family’s Hawaii vacation, taken annually since Obama was elected to office 5 years ago, typically costs taxpayers more than $4 million.
The biggest expense is Obama’s round trip flight to Hawaii via Air Force One.
A Congressional Research Service report released in May 2012 said the plane typically used by the President, a Boeing 747, costs $179,750 per hour to operate. The U.S. Air Force has listed the cost of travel as high as $181,757 per flight hour.
Travel time for Air Force One direct from Washington D.C. to Hawaii is about 9 hours or as high as $1,635,813 each way for a total of $3,271,622 for the round trip to Hawaii and back.
The President will have made two round trips to Hawaii via Air Force One within a matter of days bringing the total for his air travel to more than $6.4 million, and the cost of the trip to more than $7.2 million.
Other expenses include the USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports the Presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii; housing for U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard and Navy Seals in beach front and canal front homes around where the President stays; and hotel accommodations at the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki for staff.
Oahu taxpayers pick up the tab for the Honolulu Police escorts, which usually totals around $250,000, and the city ambulance, which accompanies the President 24 hours a day through his entire visit, totaling about $10,000.
On Wednesday, U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats were back in the waterways surrounding the home where the President is staying. They also continue to guard other private homes in their Kailua neighborhood where the Obama’s friends are vacationing.
Since arriving in Hawaii, the President and First Lady attended just one public event – a memorial service for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye. They have no other public appearances planned.
While no date has been announced for the First Family’s departure from the islands, the U.S. Coast Guard is enforcing a security zone around Kailua waterways until January 6.
Signs posted in Kailua on the street where the President is staying say there is “no parking” from December 21 to January 6 at 8 p.m.