BY TERRI CHURCHILL – The actual cost of President Obama’s 10 day trip to Asia are wildly disputed among the press, originating from a Press Trust of India (PMI, not FOX News) report, who estimated the daily cost of the trip at $200 million per day. It is far more likely however, that this figure is more accurate for the entire trip cost.
After reviewing all available information, I found that the “debunking” of this figure consisted largely of the White House saying that the PMI costs are excessive, Snopes saying the costs are actually “well short” of the $200M estimate ($198 million total), and Fact check’s “I can’t believe it could be true.
Even the war only costs $190 million a day.” Even the WSJ, USA today and CNN; acknowledged that it does cost many millions of dollars a day for the president to travel, but $200 million per day is excessive. Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser, acknowledged that the logistics of the president’s travel were pretty expensive, and complex.
Including; advance teams, embassy personnel, the military deployments and maintenance and medical staff, staff from the White House and the State Department, the traveling staff of the President and the delegation traveling with the president, among many other personnel and considerations. He acknowledged that there was a large delegation. However, because neither Mr. Rhodes, nor the White house would provide any opposing dollar figures we don’t know. Even the mainstream media acknowledged this fact.
Granted much of the trip was business related, but also included a lot of pleasure trips and sightseeing for the first family. The president has been longing to return to the place of his youth for quite some time and has been frustrated and had to previously cancel the trip, because of the pesky business of running the government.
Based on a similar trip to three countries over a 10 day period in 1999, which cost a total of 72.1 million dollars, with a delegation of 1300 individuals, 592 of which were his personal staff, (www.gao.gov/archive/1999/ns99164.pdf), simply doubling those costs to today’s rate is 144.2 million and that’s without the extra guests and staff brought on this trip by President Obama, which was estimated at about 3,000 persons.
FOX reported the facts, citing the source, press secretary Gibbs dismissal (“simply not true”) of the PMI report and the refusal to cite the actual or even estimated costs of the trip.
So, the only question that remains is; was spending $200 million dollars in the midst of the “worst recession, since the great depression,” with zero results to show for such a huge expenditure, the right thing for the president to do, or not?
What I found really amazing is that when a citizen honestly questioned the wisdom of such an expenditure (Maui News, letters to the editor), at a time when many Americans are struggling to survive, put food on the table, keep their homes, jobs and families intact, the very impertinence of the question brought the wrath of no less than six progressive letter responses. In each of these responses the content of the question was ignored.
The letter writer was bashed and degraded along with FOX news and conservatives, for buying into false information for the sake of bashing the president and being a stupid conservative fear monger. I’ve cleaned up the content of these responses considerably, but you get the idea. It would seem that if you question anything about this administration or their policies, you will become the designated piñata of the day. This folks, is how you chill free speech and democracy. It is the responsibility and right of every citizen to question their government. You should be able to question free from repercussions from the government or their minions.
I was also struck by the assertion that in the face of misinformation, it was perfectly fine for Mr. Gibbs to refuse to even give a ballpark estimate (not asking for state secrets here) as to how much of the tax payers money actually was spent on this trip. The main stream and liberal media outlets accepted the assertion as fact, without question, without actually having any facts and “debunked” the dollar amount. Yet, I seem to remember the press adamantly demanding a “to the penny” accounting of the costs of every single trip Presidents Clinton and Bush took. Whatever happened to all that transparency that the President promised us?
How much, and how responsibly all members of the government spend the tax payers dollars are legitimate questions. They are questions that should be asked loudly and answered truthfully, not with evasions, deflections and character assignations. But no matter how you slice it, the questions remain; was spending $200 million dollars in the midst of the “worst recession, since the great depression,” the right thing for the president to do? What return did we get for our money? Why is it acceptable that the White house refuses to answer these questions?
That’s my opinion and she’s entitled to it.
Terri Churchill is a resident of Hana, Hawaii