When President Donald Trump took office, he promised to eliminate wasteful spending and redirect those funds to increased military spending, building the infamous wall and, I guess, frequent personal trips to his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort.
Trump did not even make it two weeks into his presidency before he needed an escape to the resort. Could we expect much less from one of the richest men in the country? In his first formal interview after his election victory with CBS’s 60 Minutes, he said, “I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.”
Yet here we are, not even four months into his presidency, and he has visited his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago six times.
To add onto this hypocrisy, back in December 2011 he tweeted, “The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 million +++ while there is 20% unemployment.”
Unemployment was actually at 8.5 percent. He never was good at using non-alternative facts, was he?
One might argue, is it really that bad if Trump himself owns the resort? Well, yes. Each trip to Mar-a-Lago costs more than $3 million in federal costs. This is due to Secret Service costs, the expense of flying Air Force One and securing the entire resort. With six trips thus far, at $3 million each, he has spent $18 million in less than four months on lavish vacations.
Many Republicans defend Trump’s trips by pointing out Obama also took vacations. But, the numbers don’t lie. Obama’s travel expenses averaged just $12.1 million during each year of his presidency. Trump has already surpassed this.
Adding onto the taxpayer’s tab, the protection for his wife Melania and son Barron costs New York City more than $1 million a day. The two are staying in Trump Tower in Manhattan until the end of the school year and are quite frankly draining resources, both monetary and other, that would be put to better use elsewhere.
If his first hundred days in office are any indication as to how the next four years will go, we can assume Trump will continue to pamper himself and vacation regularly. If this is, in fact, the case, the projected cost of his visits over a four-year presidential term is estimated to be approaching $600 million. This is just over the amount his administration plans on cutting for social, education and cultural programs.
This includes funding for The National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Senior Community Service Employment Program and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
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There is no justification for this absurdity. These social, educational and cultural programs are truly what make America great — not the president’s incessant desire to take weekends off and go golfing at his private club in Florida. Programs that clearly benefit the American public are being defunded simply to finance Trump’s lavish weekends. This is not what I, or millions of other Americans, imagined when Trump trumpeted his promise to “drain the swamp” on the campaign trail.
So Mr. President, don’t take away from the people you swore to lead so you can take the weekend off.
Claudia Koechell ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in history and political science.