Inside the Beltway: Memories of Christmas past: The $35 million Obama travel bill

By – The Washington Times – Sunday, December 23, 2018

It is a complex Christmas Eve in the nation’s capital, what with a partial government shut-down, media melodrama, partisan strife and a change of plans for President , who canceled his holiday trip to Florida amid all the big doings. White House business must be addressed, and as we wait on the outcome, let’s examine a vacation from a previous era, courtesy of our own Dave Boyer, a meticulous White House reporter for The Washington Times. He wrote this account on December 22, 2016.

“For the last time, taxpayers are paying for a Hawaiian vacation for President Obama and his family, an annual luxury getaway that has cost the Treasury easily more than $35 million over eight years. Golfing on oceanside courses, dining at high-end restaurants and frolicking on stunning white-sand beaches where security guards keep other tourists at bay, the president and his family are in the midst of a 17-day holiday that requires dozens of Secret Service agents, military personnel and other government employees to guarantee their safety and ease of travel around Oahu,” Mr. Boyer wrote at the time, the details from an investigation made by Judicial Watch.

The conservative watchdog had obtained the cost numbers through a Freedom of Information Act request, revealing that the White House vacations of the previous president each totaled about $4.8 million each year.

“Multiply that cost by eight years, and taxpayers have paid in the range of $35 million to $40 million — at a minimum — for the first family’s tropical vacations,” Mr. Boyer said, adding that the Obamas did pay their own rent on the property over the years, estimated to be $5,000-$10,000 a night.

Judicial Watch, however, last year revealed the final costs of all “known travel expenses” for Mr. Obama and family — including Hawaii and other excursions, again based on FOIA requests. The final total: $105,662,975.

DEMOCRATS ONCE LOVED THE WALL

It does not appear convenient for Democrats to support the southern border wall at the moment. That was not always the case, though.

“Democrats are now opposed to a border barrier — even though they voted for it and strongly supported it in the past,” notes a new study from Mike Reed, research director for the Republican National Committee, who based his report on actual roll call votes, The Associated Press, The Hill and other news sources.

“Democrats have criticized President ’s efforts to bolster border security with a wall, calling it irresponsible, not a ‘serious’ proposal, and wasteful. However, many of these same Democrats voted, in some cases twice, to build a 700 mile physical barrier at the border at a greater cost than the current proposal of $5 billion,” the GOP report says.

In 2013, all 54 Democrats voted to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which spent $46 billion in border security improvements and added 700 miles of border fencing. Among those who voted yea: Sens. Charles E. Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Richard J. Durbin and then-Sen. Harry Reid.

In 2006, 26 Democrats voted for The Secure Fence Act, which allowed for 700 miles of fencing along the border at a price tag of $1.4 billion for the fence and $50 billion in total maintenance costs over 25 years. Yes, that was $50 billion.

“If you’re going to get bipartisan support and get [an immigration] bill done, you’re going to have to do something on the border,” Mr. Schumer said in 2013.

Also among the yea votes: then-Sens. Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton, who once recalled in 2010 that she had “voted numerous times” as senator to spend money on a border barrier “to try to prevent illegal immigrants from coming in.”

A COMPARATIVE $5 BILLION

“The federal government spent more money on the food stamp program in October, which was the first month of fiscal 2019, than President now wants the Congress to approve for the border wall for the entirety of fiscal 2019. In October, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement, the federal government spent $5,892,000,000 on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is also known as the food stamp program,” writes Terence P. Jeffrey, editor in chief of CNSNews.

“In November, according to the statement for that month, the federal government spent another $5,428,000,000 on the food stamp program, bringing the total so far for fiscal 2019 (after only two months) to $11,320,000,000 — or an average of $5,660,000,000 per month,” Mr. Jeffrey noted. “In fiscal 2018, which ran through September, the federal government spent $68,493,000,000 on the food stamp program.”

Also, the very active citizen GoFundMe outreach now under way to raise money for”The Trump Wall” has accrued $16 million in one week.

HERE COMES THE PETITION

“Tell the senate: BUILD THE WALL. Democrats are making it clear that they value illegal immigrants more than hard-working Americans! Nonsense! The time for action is now, because if we don’t have a big beautiful wall protecting our southern border, we won’t have a country. Add your name to tell Democrats: BUILD THE WALL,” reads a new active public petition from the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — a joint fundraising committee authorized by for President Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

So far, the petition has dawn 1.2 million signatures.

POLL DU JOUR

33 percent of Americans say they most dislike “the crowds” at ; 27 percent of Republicans, 39 percent of independents and 24 percent of Democrats agree.

16 percent overall most dislike “finding the right gift”; 16 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 20 percent of Democrats agree.

13 percent overall most dislike “gaining weight”; 8 percent of Republicans, 13 percent of independents and 21 percent of Democrats agree.

11 percent most dislike “being with certain relatives”; 13 percent of Republicans, 9 percent of independents and 12 percent of Democrats agree.

8 percent overall most dislike the “traveling”; 11 percent of Republicans, 8 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

Source; An NPR/PBS /Marist poll of 1,075 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 28-Dec. 4 and released Friday.

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