Is the U.S. President Worth $1.4 Billion a Year?

When George Washington first took office in 1789, he had no idea of what that office would end up costing the American taxpayers in the long run.  At the time Washington took office, the nation was broke due to the costs of Revolutionary War.  Two hundred and twenty-three years later, the nation is once again broke, but not because of war, but because of greed and entitlements.  And those entitlements seem to abound in the office of the President of the United States.

Whether Democrat or Republican, it seems the President is treated more like some kind of deity than the nation’s leader.  Author John Groom’s latest enterprise, The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man: Costs of the Obama White House, breaks down what it is costing us taxpayers to maintain the presidency and the White House.  In the case of Obama’s it is running around $1.4 billion per year.  The highest on record appears to be 2008 and Bush’s last year in the White House when the cost went up to $1.6 billion.

According to Groom’s book here is how the $1.4 billion cost breaks down:

• President’s salary and allowance: $450,000
• White House building operating expenses: $14,658,000
• White House Grounds: $6,057,000
• Vacations: $20,000,000
• Health care for the first family, including traveling medical staff and equipment: $7,000,000
• Campaign expenses not reimbursed to government: $311,000,000
• White House staff: $7,985,420
• Office of Administration budget: $14,481,000
• Special missions including White House Communications Agency: $161,252,000
• Military salary costs: $153,441,360
• Salary costs for presidential airlift squadron: $75,000,000
• Presidential plane fleet: $44,000,000
• Presidential helicopter fleet: $300,000,000
• Ground transportation: $2,200,000
• Transportation total: $346,200,000
• Secret Service: $259,152,884

In his book, Groom concludes:

“We need to return to the idea of the president as first citizen – a very important person, but not a deity.  He and his administration should run their lives as examples to the nation, with frugality and simplicity, at least until the huge institution they run, the United States government, returns to some degree of solvency.”

I couldn’t agree more.  To start with, I would evict all non-immediate members of the family including Michelle Obama’s mother who has been living high off the hog at our expense.  Next I would cut vacations down to one per year.  I would eliminate all of the extra staff that travels with them on vacation like hair dressers, makeup and wardrobe.  Let the first family pick out their own clothes, dress themselves and face themselves in the mirror like the rest of us do.

With such a huge deficit and financial crisis, I would close down as many rooms in the White House as possible and only leave enough for the first family to live and for the president to conduct necessary business.  With the reduction of White House rooms available for use it would reduce the number of staff needed to maintain them.

I would limit all use of Air Force One and Marine One to only those trips that can’t be avoided.  If the first family is in such good shape, why do they need traveling medical staff and equipment?

I would eliminate the $311 million campaign expense since no one else running for President receives the same.  That gives any incumbent an unfair advantage.

I bet you by the time I was done with the White House and presidential budget, I could cut it nearly in half, but that would still be exorbitant in times of austerity.  I would be interested to see what you would cut from the $1.4 billion dollar a year White House – presidential budget.