The Costliest Commander-in-Chief: Just How High Are Costs for this “Vacation President”?

Through the presidency, the Trump family has passed on the costs of their extravagant lifestyle to taxpayers

[DIGEST: The Atlantic, Washington Post, Fortune, BBC, Business Insider, The Hill, NPR

Everyone deserves a vacation. Many of us get it: The average American receives 15 days of paid vacation per year after 25 years on the job (23 percent of workers receive no vacation time at all). But in three months in office, President Trump’s frequent need for R&R at a variety of the luxury properties he owns has cost taxpayers more than Obama spent in an entire year.

Trump’s travel expenses, combined with huge costs for maintaining the First Lady in a separate residence in NYC, and costs associated with the extensive business and leisure travels of his adult children and their families, has the public footing an unprecedented bill — much of which is paid right back to the Trump family business interests.

Fortune reported that Trump’s first three trips to his Mar-a-Lago private resort in Florida cost taxpayers more than $10 million. By comparison, President Obama’s travel expenses averaged $12.1 million for each year he spent in office, prompting the Washington Post to estimate that the U.S. Treasury will outspend Obama’s eight-year bill in just one year of the Trump presidency. Trump has spent nearly every weekend in Florida since taking office.

In addition to costs to the federal government, the local communities in which Trump owns properties are experiencing skyrocketing security bills, which are passed onto local taxpayers. The Post noted: “The elaborate lifestyle of America’s first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for previous presidents.”

Trump
First Lady Melania and President Donald Trump on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago. (Credit: Source.)

New Yorkers bear the heaviest load. As Melania Trump has decided to live separately from her husband, taxpayers must foot a separate security bill for her and their son Barron, along with the additional security needed for the high-profile target of Trump Tower on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. Fortune reports that costs for city police between Election Day and the inauguration alone ran about $308,000 per day, or $24 million before Trump had even taken office. The city now pays $500,000 a day to protect Trump Tower. The New York City Police Department estimates it will spend $97 million per year protecting the Trumps. In addition, the New York City Fire Department will spend another $4.5 million per year to protect the building. Trump’s ex-wives Marla Maples and Ivana Trump also receive additional security and protection. Florida taxpayers are looking at a similar burden.

Golf Galore

Although he frequently complained via Twitter about President Obama golfing during his eight years in office, and claimed on the campaign trail that “I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump has visited his Palm Beach golf course 7 times in his first 10 weeks in office, at a cost to taxpayers of $3.3 million per weekend for his travel to Florida. Local police officer overtime costs run an additional $120,000 per day when Trump is in town.

“This is having a big impact on our budget,” said Paulette Burdick, the Palm Beach County mayor, who is now looking at cutting parks, infrastructure and homeless services to cover the Trump expenses. “We fully understand the need to protect the president but it’s unfair to ask local taxpayers to pay.”

Trump also visited his Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, although Fox News reported, in an “Alert,” that he was spending that weekend at the White House. It was quickly revealed in tweets by the golf course staff that he was in fact golfing in Virginia — his 13th trip to a golf course in the first 10 weeks in office.

Trump claims that he conducts business while vacationing, and previous presidents have done the same, often at Camp David, the traditional off-site meeting and resting place of presidents. Camp David has been in use since Dwight Eisenhower’s time in office and costs $8 million a year to operate. Trump declared Camp David not fancy enough for his tastes, dismissing it as “rustic.” (His own properties feature lavish, gold-plated décor.)

“This is an expensive way to conduct business, and the president should recognize that,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

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