JUNE 02, 2009
In yet another violation of his infamous pledge to run the most transparent administration in history, President Barack Obama refuses to disclose how much U.S. taxpayers spent on his highly publicized New York date with his wife.
While many regular Americans suffer through an economic crisis, the president and First Lady took a taxpayer-financed government jet to Manhattan for dinner and a Broadway show. The Obama’s paid for dinner and the theater tickets but Americans picked up the hefty tab for the transportation, motorcades and security details.
Estimates for the trip have ranged from $24,000 to $75,000 but the White House could end the speculation by revealing the actual cost. After all, unprecedented transparency was one of Obama’s main campaign promises and it wasn’t that long ago that he boldly proclaimed that “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
So why not end the guesstimates by revealing the actual numbers? A Washington D.C. newspaper speculates that the cost is far more exorbitant than most Americans imagine, providing in a lengthy story details to support the theory and rule out the $24,000 estimate as “absurdly low” and the $75,000 estimate as “spectacularly low.”
The article helps calculate the actual cost by offering details of the logistics involved in the president’s intricate security operation. First, the Obama’s and their entourage flew from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base which required three choppers, two decoys and the one carrying the First Couple. That trip alone requires dozens of military personnel for radar, communications, mechanics and crews.
The piece points out that transporting the president on a weekend still takes a full operation, which means D.C. police, uniformed Secret Service officers and Capitol police making overtime pay. At least three jets ferried the Obama’s aides and reporters to New York and a motorcade of at least a dozen vehicles was set up in New York. Then, at least three helicopters flew the whole party from JFK Airport to a Wall Street landing zone.
Hundreds of New York Police Department officers—earning overtime pay—were stationed along the Obama route, shutting down roads and holding back pedestrians. An army of police cars and motorcycles as well as New York City ambulance participated in the procession. Finally, the U. S. Secret Service had to survey the route in advance and station agents and sharpshooters throughout the area.
Americans deserve to know how much of their tax dollars the president spent to take his wife on this date, which he evidently promised her during the rigors of campaigning. His secrecy on the matter is only the latest violation of his own transparency rule.
In December Obama failed to make public—as promised—details of crucial transition meetings with special interest groups. A few months later, Obama’s Justice Department defended a Bush Administration secrecy rule it had harshly criticized in court. Earlier this month the president revealed that his highly touted database for Americans to track “every dime” of the $787 billion stimulus bill wouldn’t be available until half the money is spent.
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