The axiom that you get what you pay for simply doesn’t hold true in the case of the federal government. Of course, the deceptive practices of government officials and lobbyists has a lot to do with that.
Take the recent study by the Cato Institute which found that, despite doubling of expenditures in inflation-adjusted dollars since the 1970s, the performance of students across the nation has remained flat or, in the cases of some states, fallen.
Now comes a study that finds that President Obama to date is the most traveled and most expensive president in U.S. history.
Five years into his Administration, Obama has spent more time traveling around the globe in the most expensive Air Force One to operate to date, according to the National Taxpayer Union Foundation. Obama has taken 31 trips for 119 days abroad. At this point in their presidencies, George W. Bush had taken 28 trips for 116 days, Bill Clinton had been on 27 trips for 113 days, Ronald Reagan 14 trips for 73 days, Richard Nixon 12 trips for 60 days, Lyndon Johnson 10 trips for 34 days, and Dwight Eisenhower 8 trips for 31 days.
The cost of operating Air Force One was $228,288 per hour in 2013, a 27 percent hike since the last NTUF report, so the foundation concludes that Obama’s air travel cost is the highest of any president. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation.
For example, the NTUF report estimates Obama’s trip to Europe and the Middle East will require 29 hours in the air and cost about $6.6 million.
The report points out that presidential trips have additional costs, as well, such as the cost of transporting Obama’s Secret Service detail, backup aircraft, land vehicles, advance security teams and Obama’s entourage, which is usually notably large.
The report doesn’t address travel by other members of the first family, who often travel and vacation without the president. At the moment, Michelle Obama is touring China with her daughters and mother. Word on the street is that the hotel staff is fed up with the lot of them, particularly grandma, who has been ingratiating herself by bossing around and yelling at everybody.
President Obama’s travel isn’t that far out of bounds from other recent presidents, so he doesn’t deserve criticism just on that point.
However, taxpayers should be asking themselves if Obama is worth the cost; has the country really gotten its money’s worth out of his trips?
The answer, by any rational assessment, should be a resounding no.
Obama’s foreign policy is a shambles that has left countries in the hands of terrorists, inflamed civil wars, embarrassed the country and generally produced little or nothing to show for five years of “resetting” America’s global relations. He has managed to encourage enemies, discourage allies, lose friends and decrease respect for the United States around the globe. Many of his trips, such as when he flew to Copenhagen to make a personal pitch to get the Olympic Games in Chicago, are just pointless wastes of time.
If Obama’s trips were making the world a safer place or promoting U.S. leadership, then the cost could be worthwhile. A president’s personal influence can be decisive in foreign affairs. The problem is, Obama has squandered whatever influence the office of the president once had.
If you’re supposed to get what you pay for, taxpayers need to ask for a refund.