Thursday, August 11, 2011

Vacation Days

From USNews:

At a time when many more cash-strapped Americans are stuck at home instead of vacationing at the beach, President Obama next week will lead an entourage of several dozens to exclusive Martha's Vineyard island at a cost of millions to taxpayers.

While technically he is paying for his estimated $50,000 a week rental of the 28-acre beachfront Blue Heron Farm in woodsy Chilmark, the dozens of U.S. Secret Service agents, communications officials, top aides, drivers, and U.S. Coast Guard personnel with him will be covered by taxpayers as with every other presidential vacation.

And he dismissed the criticism of vacationing presidents. "I think all this 'Why is he taking a vacation?' stuff is ginned up by the media," he said. "I don't think any American will fault him for getting away, especially if he comes back with some fresh ideas on how to create jobs."

Sure - every president needs to take some time off now and then, but how much time?

According to

A four-day holiday weekend in Chicago in February where the president played some basketball and treated First Lady Michelle Obama to a Valentine’s Day dinner date.

An eight-day stay with his family at a rented house on Martha’s Vineyard in August.

A trip out west to the U.S. states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona that combined both business and pleasure. The president held town hall meetings on health care during the trip. And he went fly fishing and took trips to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon with his wife and two daughters.

An 11-day stay in Hawaii where the president and his family celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Some of the president’s recent predecessors, however, have spent more days — either entirely or partially — away from the White House "on vacation" during their first year in office.

President Reagan, in 1981, spent all or part of 42 days away from the White House "on vacation" at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif, according to Knoller. President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, also spent three or four days around New Year’s Day each year in Palm Springs, Calif., at the home of philanthropist Walter Annenberg. (In 1993 the late Mr. Annenberg founded the nonpartisan Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, which is’s parent organization.)

President George W. Bush spent even more time away from the presidential mansion in the nation’s capital than Reagan. Of the 77 total "vacation" trips the former president made to his Texas ranch while in office, nine of them — all or part of 69 days — came during his first year as president in 2001, according to Knoller.

Ah, yes. But there's a major difference: both Reagan and Bush "vacationed" at their homes on property they owned. They didn't spend millions of taxpayer dollars renting properties at which to vacation. And don't forget that trip to India that Obama turned into a "working" family vacation - where he rented out an entire 600+ room luxury hotel. Or the vacations that Michelle Obama has taken, say, to Spain... or to Oregon... or to Vail... South Africa... You get the idea. Luckily, I'm not the only one who's talking about it.

Oh, yeah... I wonder if all those rounds of golf - 75 rounds to date - Obama's been playing lately count as vacation days? Probably not. Those were on weekends, after all.

I guess what's most frustrating is that all this comes in the middle of a recession and economic hardship for the rest of the country. It's also a time when the president is lecturing us about cutting back and doing without things like, oh, vacations. It's his job to not only follow his own advice, but also to set the tone and example for the country. But just like everything else, he'sa master at saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. In fact, just a few months ago, he said ""If you’re a family trying to cut back, you might skip going out to dinner, you might put off a vacation." But this is the same guy who said in the exact same speech that the government, like ordinary Americans, has to live within its means." And any rational-thinking American can see what utter bullcrap that turned out to be during the debt ceiling debate.

So in the past three years he and his family have managed to waste tens of millions of dollars on vacations. But when you compare that to how much money was wasted on "stimulus spending," I guess that's a drop in the bucket.

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