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1 May, 2014 17:48

Fighting income inequality: Obama-Biden vacation tab reaches $40 mn

Fighting income inequality: Obama-Biden vacation tab reaches $40 mn

A vacation tab racked up by President Obama and Vice President Biden has gotten pretty hefty – reaching $40 million, according to a taxpayer watchdog group.

In a statement released by Judicial Watch, the group stated it had gotten its hands on documentation from the US Air Force, via Freedom of Information Act requests, that reveals the cost of flying Obama and Biden alone routinely exceeds hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour in the air.

According to the Washington Examiner, which obtained the release, the president’s two golf outings this year cost roughly $2.9 million in taxpayer funds.

Judicial Watch estimates that since 2009, American taxpayers have spent about $40 million flying Obama and Biden to various destinations – not just golf outings in Palm Springs, California, but also for vacations to Hawaii and trips to Africa.

Additionally, the group stated that even more money is spent on accommodation, vehicle transportation, Secret Service protection, and other things. The president of Judicial Watch says the amount of spending amounts to "abuse."

“It is clear that the Obamas continually abuse the perks of the president’s office at taxpayer expense,” said Tom Fitton, according to the Examiner. “And it is particularly interesting that Obama has chosen to take not one but two luxury vacations back-to-back while inveighing against ‘income equality.’ President Obama’s waste of the hard-earned tax dollars of working Americans on unnecessary luxury travel is an abuse of office.”

This isn’t the first time the cost of the president’s travel has been subject to scrutiny by Judicial Watch. In March, the group announced that Obama’s trips to Hawaii and Africa in 2013 cost nearly $16 million in flight costs alone. In particular, the trip to Africa was criticized by some after reports indicated that, based on previous presidential journeys to the continent, it could cost between $60 million and $100 million.

With the trip taking place as sequestration forced cuts in various government agencies, Obama's political opponents have criticized him for taking the trip while canceling White House tours.

“For the cost of this trip to Africa, you could have 1,350 weeks of White House tours,” Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) said at the time. “It is no secret that we need to rein in government spending, and the Obama administration has regularly and repeatedly shown a lack of judgment for when and where to make cuts.”

But those with experience in planning presidential trips have chalked up the costs as par for the course.

“Even in the most developed places of Western Europe, the level of support you need for mass movements by the president is really extraordinary,” said Steve Atkiss, who helped coordinate travel under President George W. Bush, to the Washington Post. “As you go farther afield, to less-developed places, certainly it’s more of a logistical challenge.”