A record-breaking 47.8 million Americans are on food stamps, an increase of about 1.3 million from a year earlier. The official unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, a number that obscures the reality that millions of Americans who have given up looking for work aren’t counted, and that the labor force participation rate of 63.6 percent measured in December 2012, is the lowest in 32 years. The national debt is $16.7 trillion and growing. White House tours have been cancelled due to sequestration. And amidst it all, Barack Obama and his family have taken four lavish vacations in three months.
Every president deserves time off. Yet the unabashed luxuriousness of the Obamas’ lifestyle reflects a genuine tone-deafness with regard to the pressing concerns of millions of Americans, as well as the president’s priorities. Even as he blamed sequestration for the decision to cancel White House tours that would have cost a total of $2 million for the rest of the year, it was revealed that the known cost of Obama’s Christmas vacation in Hawaii last year was at least $4 million. That vacation was also the fourth one taken in Hawaii in four years, three of which involved separate flights First Lady Michelle Obama took to get there ahead of her husband. This year’s separate flight, necessitated by the president’s trip back to Washington to complete the fiscal cliff deal before returning to Honolulu, cost taxpayers an additional $3.24, and ran the total tab for the 2012-13 trip to more than $7 million.
The total for the four trips combined? More than $20 million.
However, holiday vacations to Hawaii hardly scratch the surface. These vacations were also interspersed with trips to locales like Florida or Southern California. In addition, the president’s “mini-vacations” have raised eyebrows. His three-day golf outing at an exclusive club in Florida, where he was joined by Tiger Woods, occurred less than two weeks before the sequester kicked in — even as the White House Blog raised the specter of “harmful automatic cuts” that are “threatening hundreds of thousands of jobs, and cutting vital services for children, seniors, people with mental illness and our men and women in uniform.”
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) put that trip in perspective, noting that it cost American taxpayers “over a million dollars,” which was “enough money to save 341 federal workers from furlough.” The rest of the family was on vacation in Colorado at the time, meaning taxpayers are billed for yet another separate use of Air Force One, which costs approximately $180,000 an hour to use. This marks the fourth Colorado ski vacation in four years for the First Lady and and her daughters, Malia and Sasha. Judicial Watch confirmed that the cost of 2012 trip, including U.S. Secret Service costs, as well as accommodations at the Fasching Haus deluxe condominium and the Inn at Aspen, totaled $48,950.38.
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