GOP ridicules White House tour shutdown

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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GOP leaders and staffers are ridiculing the White House’s decision to shut down the high-profile tours of the White House, even as the administration continues pre-sequester spending on other projects, such as presidential golf outings and new uniforms for airport security agents.

“Canceling white house tours is childish and dishonest [Obamas’s] golf weekend in florida cost enough to keep the white house open for months,” said a tweet from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “Obama should be challenged … this is silly and demeaning.”

“White House cancels tours post sequester,” said a tweet from Brad Dayspring, a Senate spokesman.

“Now I guess the only way to get inside Obama WH is to give $500,000 to OFA,” he said, evoking the current scandal over donations to President Barack Obama’s Organizing for Action lobby group.

“Want to reschedule your canceled WH tour? That’ll be $500,000,” said a message from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The committee also tweeted out a quote from the White House’s website: “[T]he halls of gov’t are not reserved for a privileged few, and the [White House] should be no exception.”

Obama suggested a sequester during the 2011 budget talk in exchange for a large increase in the federal government’s credit-card. The federal debt is now $16.6 trillion, up $6 trillion from Obama’s first inauguration.

The sequester is expected to trim $42 billion in spending from the Pentagon and several civilian agencies during last nine months of the the 2013 fiscal year. The cutback is roughly 1 percent of the federal 2013 budget.

But Obama has tried to highlight harms from the spending trim, which he says could furlough people working in popular government activities, such as food-inspectors, soldiers, daycare teachers, border agents and prosecutors.

White House officials have not announced any efforts to cut lower-priority spending.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney was asked why the Transportation of Security Agency was recently awarded a $50 million contract for new uniforms, instead of saving the money for higher priority programs.

“I appreciate the question,” Carney replied. “Obviously TSA would be well suited to answer it,” he added, without answering the question.

The White House’s refusal to describe cost-saving measures leaves GOP commentators with easy opportunities to razz the administration.

“Taxpayers won’t be able to tour White House and see $376 million of home improvements they paid for in 2010,” said a tweet from Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

“I bet all those families who had White House tours will be on the lookout for wasteful spending,” he added.

‘White House cancels tours over sequestration; House Admin welcomes Americans visiting D.C. to tour Capitol instead,” Cooper said in another tweet.

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Neil Munro