President Obama Closes White House to School Children's Tours
Memories of Childhood Sunday Dinner Discussions
I wasn’t surprised listening to President Obama’s speeches in the day’s leading up to the start of the March 1st automatic sequester in which he predicted all sorts of hardships that the American people would have to endure when the sequester took effect.
After all President Obama has a reputation for demanding his way and stretching the truth past the breaking point. As Karl Rove so eloquently put it in his February 21, 2013 Wall Street Journal column entitled A Better Republican Sequester Strategy where he stated: Mr. Obama is a once-in-a-generation demagogue with a compliant press corps.
The President’s antics brought back childhood memories of sitting at Sunday dinner and listening to my Father and Grandmother discussing politics.
I remember my Father frequently saying that there was no way to get politicians to cut wasteful spending because as soon as public opinion was sufficient to demand cuts, the politicians would respond with cuts in essential services like the mail.
People would then feel the pain, demand relief and the politicians would respond by restoring mail service with their buddies in the media broadcasting the fact that people really didn’t want cuts in spending. The politicians would then resume wasting our money.
Growth of Government Makes it Easier to Hurt People
While the Post Office has long since ceased to be a factor in most people’s lives as most of us rarely use its services, the explosive growth of the Federal Government in recent decades has resulted in its tentacles working their way in to many areas of people’s lives.
Hence, President Obama’s threats in the days leading up to the March 1st sequester to cut back on services like air traffic control, border security, police protection, etc. which would make life more difficult and even dangerous for Americans.
Republicans and other critics began shooting back with a continuing flood of examples of wasteful or unnecessary programs and expenditures that could be cut back instead of the critical programs the President was threatening to cut.
President Obama Slams Door to White House in School Children's Faces
As opponents’ actions began to highlight the President’s mean streak and his ruthless approach to trying to get his way, he struck back by shutting down public tours of the White House.
The goal of this action, as always, was to put pressure on the Republicans in Congress to halt their efforts to reduce government spending and hold the line on tax increases.
Tickets to visit the White House are apparently free but have to be obtained by requesting them from the office of their congressman.
With the Republican majority in the House of Representatives blocking the President’s attempts to unleash more taxes and spending on the nation, they would be the main target of the complaints.
Enhancing the effect of the closure was the fact that the President’s abrupt closing of the White House occurred at the start of school spring breaks which, in recent years, has become the time for school sponsored trips to Washington, D.C. This is an event that children in graduating classes in middle and high schools have looking forward to for the past few years and which their parents have been actively engaged in fundraising since the beginning of the school year.
Plea From Sixth Grade Class Causes National Outrage
The tactic, however, backfired when the sixth grade class at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa posted a 9 second video on Facebook that showed them holding up signs and saying in unison, The White House is our house. Please let us visit!
Apparently, young children in flyover country like Iowa, still believe that our Founding Fathers’ words We the People, are still in the Constitution and have not been changed to Me, the President. The video quickly went viral and has helped to show where this president’s priorities lie.
Unlike the President, House Speaker John Boehner, quickly reminded people that, while Congress is also affected by the sequester, that body found other areas to cut so the Capitol Building could remain open to the American people.
According to White House spokesman, Jay Carney, the public tours were canceled in order to save approximately $74,000 per week.
The $74,000 appears to include the $18,000 per week needed to pay the seven employees who facilitate the tours plus the cost of compensation for the Secret Service agents involved. The seven facilitators will presumably be laid off while the Secret Service agents will be re-deployed to other areas in order to save on overtime costs.
President Obama Rejects Eric Bolling & Sean Hannity's Offer to Pay Cost of Tours
Upon hearing the news that the tours for school children would be canceled, Fox News hosts Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity stepped forward with each one offering to pay for one week of tours.
With $148,000 the White House would be receiving, the tours could continue for the next two weeks allowing tourists and school children with tickets for tours through Saturday March 23rd to still visit the White House.
The White House response was basically a curt No.
This answer made it clear that the suspension of White House tours was about politics, not saving money.
Regal Living at the White House
While the mainstream media, with few exceptions, is generally behind the President and his efforts to tax and spend even more, the blogosphere, Twitter, talk radio and news organizations like Fox News are having a field day broadcasting examples of wasteful programs that could be cut.
While most of the focus is on Federal spending as a whole, a subset of this group is looking White House spending by the President and his family.
According to a new book by John F. Groom, entitled The $1.4 Billion Man: The Costs of the Obama White House, it costs taxpayers about $1.4 Billion per year to maintain the President and his family.
This is in addition to his salary of $400,000 per year and $50,000 for expenses. Unlike most of us whose incomes are a fraction of the President’s, he and his family get their home (which we can no longer visit) rent free plus their own private get-away resort (Camp David).
American taxpayers also provide not only food for the First Family, but also a $100,000 a year chef and his kitchen staff.
Like many American families, the First Family has a pet dog named Bo.
However, unlike the average American household, the Obama’s have a special staff person whose job is to take care of Bo. This special assistant for Bo receives an annual salary of $102,000. Also, whenever Bo is taken on an outing outside the White House he travels by motorcade, at taxpayer expense, like any other high dignitary.
Then there are the frequent vacations taken by the President and his family. His annual Christmas vacation trip to Hawaii is estimated to cost about $4 Million per trip per year.
Short trips, such as the President taking his wife to dinner in New York City for the evening, can run as high as a million dollars because of the security and other logistics involved in transporting the First Couple to places outside Washington, D.C.
First Daughter Flies to New York City for Dinner on First Day of Sequester
This taste for New York restaurants is not just the President and Mrs. Obama’s, as on Saturday evening, March 2nd, fourteen year old Malia, eldest daughter of President Obama, flew to New York City to join eight of her friends at Buddakan, an upscale Asian restaurant in the Chelsa district.
This was the first full day of the sequester and one week before the start of her father’s closing the doors of the White House to the rest of the nation’s school children,
Unlike other fourteen year olds, Malia could have invited her friends over to her house for a grand evening of dining and entertainment.
The White House chef and his staff could prepared any type of dinner she wanted.
After dining she and her girlfriends would have been able to take a swim in the pool, play in the gym, bowl in the bowling alley or watch movies in the theater, all of which are available inside the White House to Malia and her family and friends, free of charge, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayers.
This savings in travel expenses for the First Daughter's outing probably would have saved enough to fund White House tours for school children for at least a week.
White House to Buddakan Restaurant for Dinner
Much of the High Costs of Presidential Living are Job Related
In fairness to the President and his family it should be pointed out that a good portion of the estimated $1.4 Billion dollar cost of the President’s lifestyle is overhead associated with his job.
Air Force One, which costs around $181,000 per hour to fly, may or may not have been used to fly Malia Obama to New York City for her get together at Buddakan’s Restaurant.
However, she more than likely flew on a military plane. And, while the President may have compensated the Air Force the equivalent of the cost of a civilian plane ticket, the cost of the Secret Service agents and any other staff needed to accompany Malia were paid for by the taxpayers.
In the case of President Obama’s dinner dates in New York City with his wife the cost increases dramatically.
It is not just a night out with his wife and a few Secret Service agents. When the President travels anywhere, more than one plane is required to carry his entourage of staff, doctors, equipment, vehicles and so on.
These costs which are borne by the taxpayers and can run into a million dollars or more even for a short trip.
Previous 20th Century Presidents Lived Royally As Well
While President Obama has taken full advantage of the perks available to his office and is responsible for increasing his use and the cost of these perks, he is not the first President to enjoy the life style of the rich and famous.
America started out as a republic with a president as our chief of state. George Washington, upon becoming President, set the tone for future Presidents by rejecting royal style titles and selecting the simple Mr. President as the proper way to address the President of the United States.
Washington and other early presidents generally paid for their own small household staffs and thus had a personal financial incentive as well as avoiding the pretense of royalty. Thomas Jefferson was so concerned about the appearance of taking on royal trappings that he personally opened the door and greeted visitors in person when they arrived at the White House.
Over the years the office of the president has grown in stature and perks. The U.S. Marine Corps Band was established by an Act of Congress in 1798 and has been used by all presidents since President John Adams first invited them to entertain at the White House.
The band is known as the President’s Own Band as a result of its long association with this nation’s presidents.
Hail to the Chief has been around since the early nineteenth century and since the later part of that century has become the way to announce the president at formal functions. Having their own band and song can be a great ego boost for those holding the office.
President Calvin Coolidge was probably the last U.S. President to hold the line on presidential pomp and luxury as all Twentieth Century presidents since him have added to the regal style that now surrounds the office.
A fawning press and media savvy aides have also played their part in elevating the president to near regal status.
If King George III were still alive he would feel right at home in today’s White House.
Spending On Lavish Perks Increases With Each New President
One of the problems with the regal life style of our modern presidents is the ever increasing cost of maintaining it.
Granted spending $1.4 Billion on the President is a drop in the bucket compared to the $3.8 Trillion the federal government is projected to spend in 2013.
However, the problem with the ruling class in Washington is that they are removed from reality and assume that the taxpayers have unlimited money to send to Washington. The White House might be a good place to teaching public officials the virtue of frugality.
In the case of President Obama there is a big disconnect between what he preaches and the way he lives.
With over 14% of workers either unemployed or having given up looking for work and being forced to scrimp and save to get by the President thinks nothing of flying with his wife to New York City for dinner at a huge cost to the taxpayers.
In January, working American workers saw their paychecks decrease by 2% as a result of a President Obama backed effort to increase the Social Security tax from 4.2% to 6.2% on the first $113,700 of every worker’s income.
While many middle and lower income people struggled to make ends meet with this added tax burden, President Obama thought nothing jetting off for a day of golf with Tiger Woods at an estimated cost of over a million dollars to the taxpayers.
He professes concern for the middle class and its struggles but lives a life of luxury that would make him the envy of wealthy emperors and sultans of the past.
President Obama Criticizes the Perks of Corporate CEOs While Enjoying Far More Employer Paid Perks Himself
Throughout his time in office President Obama has not only continually criticized the pay of private sector executives but has also used the powers of his office to force them to give back large portions of their pay.
He has also criticized corporate executives for perks like company jets as well as seeing to it that the IRS makes sure they pay taxes on any personal use of these jets.
Just imagine his outrage if the CEO of a Fortune 500 company was discovered to have a personal assistant for his dog on the company payroll.
The President Preaches Socialism But Lives Like a Plutocrat
As the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, the president of the United States has to act the part and visiting and entertaining foreign heads of state can be expensive.
However, his stated goal has been to reduce the power of the United States and back away from world leadership.
He is one of the most traveled American presidents in history, but instead of strengthening the nation’s image abroad with his trips he frequently apologizes for our past leadership and seeks to disengage from allies.
At home he has presided over the deepest and longest economic downturn since the Great Depression under Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. Yet it has been President Obama’s economic policies that have prolonged this recession.
Time to Reduce Size of Federal Government and Size of White House Perks
According to John F. Groom’s book, the United States now spends more money on President Obama’s regal lifestyle than any previous president as well as more than spent by any present or previous ruler in world history.
The time has come to restore the freedom bequeathed to us by our ancestors.
To do this we will not only have to trim the size of the federal government substantially but also trim back the royal lifestyle we have come to provide our president’s with.
Prime Minister Thatcher and Husband Dennis Congratulating James Bond on a Successful Mission
Can You Imagine President Obama Being Portrayed Washing Dishes in the White House?
Can You Imagine President Obama and His Wife being Portrayed Doing Dishes?
In the 1981 James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, Bond once again almost single handily saves the world from evil.
The closing scene finds Bond on a life raft making love to his latest female conquest while headquarters in London tries to reach him on his wrist watch telephone. The purpose of the call is to allow Prime Minister Thatcher to personally thank him on behalf of his Queen and country.
When Bond is reached the call is patched through to the Prime Minister's Official Residence at Number 10 Downing Street. At that moment the Prime Minister is washing dishes with her husband in the kitchen.
Can you imagine President Obama being portrayed in one of today's spy thrillers doing dishes with Michelle as the CIA director patches a call to a Navy SEAL team through to the White House so that President Obama can congratulate them on a successful mission?