Obama’s Africa trip will cost taxpayers $100 mln

  Published time: June 24, 2013 18:53                                                                            

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama’s trip to Africa is estimated to cost American taxpayers $100 million – a hefty travel expense that has sparked criticism as the federal government is dealing with its sequester-related budget cuts.

The president is traveling to sub-Sahara Africa with his family  from June 26 to July 3. The Obamas will be  accompanied by hundreds of Secret Service agents and staff, which  stack up transportation and accommodation costs. Military cargo  planes will bring 56 vehicles including 14 limousines and three  trucks loaded with bulletproof glass to cover the windows of the  hotels where the Obamas will stay. Fighter jets will fly in the  air space above the first family to provide round the clock  protection.

“For the cost of this trip to Africa, you could have 1,350  weeks of White House tours,” Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.)  said on the House floor last week. “It is no secret that we  need to rein in government spending, and the Obama administration  has regularly and repeatedly shown a lack of judgment for when  and where to make cuts… The American people have had enough of  the frivolous and careless spending.”

Holding reminded lawmakers of the $16 trillion debt the US  carries on its shoulders, and scrutinized the administration work  spending an estimated $100 million on a weeklong visit. Holding  said that while it is important to have security for the first  family, the costs for this particular trip are “excessive”.

“The numbers don’t lie: either the administration is bad at  math, or they simply don’t see a problem with their excessive  spending,” he added.

And while $100 million is a hefty price for a week of travel, the  Obamas initially planned to spend even more: the first family had  plans to go on a safari tour that would have included the expense  of a sharp-shooting team to protect them against wild animals.  But the Obamas cancelled the Tanzania safari to avoid bringing  the counterassault teams.

Although many presidents come under scrutiny for their travel  expenses, Obama’s Africa trip has been heavily criticized because  he is incurring the costs at a time when the national debt is at  its highest, government budget cuts have led to nationwide  furloughs, and Americans continue to struggle in today’s economy.  The president has already been criticized for his lavish beach  vacations in Hawaii, which have racked up significant  transportation costs due to the island’s flying distance from  Washington.

President Bill Clinton was also criticized for the expenses of  his 1998 Africa trip, but the costs only racked up to $42.7  million at the time.

But the White House alleges that Obama’s trip is a good deal,  since he is providing invaluable attention to a region that is  too often ignored.

“Frankly, there will be a great bang for our buck for being in  Africa, because when you travel to regions like Africa that don’t  get a lot of presidential attention, you can have very  long-standing and long-running impact from the visit,” deputy  national security adviser Ben Rhodes told The Hill.

The president and his family will travel to South Africa, Senegal  and Tanzania, which will mark Obama’s first official trip in  which he solely visits Africa.



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