It’s good to be king

Tom Fitton President, Judicial Watch
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Barack Obama is off on yet another vacation – his third this year and fifteenth since taking office. And while Obama vacations, the American people are forced to cut back as he, his family, and his cronies are living like royalty on the taxpayers’ tab.

With unemployment at 7.4 percent and the economy failing to create enough jobs to keep up with population growth, most Americans cannot even afford a night out – let alone a luxurious Obama-type vacation in what Politico calls “the playgrounds of the rich and famous.” According to a recent Reuters poll, 81 percent of Americans said they are cutting down on meals at restaurants, 73 percent are reducing entertainment costs such as movies and concerts, and 62 percent are spending less on travel and vacations.

And what is Barack Obama’s response to this downturn in the American people’s fortunes under his leadership? Why, fire up the jet and let’s head for the beach! Or the links. Or the slopes. Or the Costa del Sol.

We were reminded anew of the Obama regime’s icy indifference to the costs to the American people of government-funded travel just last week when Judicial Watch obtained the travel records of Obama Attorney General Eric Holder. According to the Justice Department documents, between March 27, 2009, and August 24, 2012, Holder accrued an astounding $4,263,704.01 in total travel expenses. This included $697,525.20 in taxpayer-funded personal travel expenses.

Altogether, Holder took 213 out-of-Washington trips during the 42 months for which we obtained records. His 31 personal trips during the time period included two trips to Martha’s Vineyard with a flight-only price tag of $95,185, as well as eight getaways to Farmingdale, New York, at a flight cost of $118,554.

And, remember, all of this occurred while 62 percent the average taxpayers – those forced to foot the bill for Holder’s flights on government-owned luxury jets – were spending less and less on travel and vacations. But, the truth is, even Holder’s $95,000 Martha’s Vineyard outings dim in comparison to what the Obama family forces the American taxpayer to spend when they decide to let the good times roll.

In 2010, when the Obama family spent their Christmas vacation at a luxury beachfront retreat in Kailua Bay, Hawaii, a local newspaper published some of the daunting numbers. They included $63,000 for the First Lady to take an early flight to the island, $1 million for the president’s round-trip flight, and hundreds of thousands for beachfront homes for Secret Service and military personnel as well as the White House entourage.

In October 2011, we ferreted out documents detailing the costs of a June 2011 trip taken by Michelle Obama, her staff, and her family to South Africa and Botswana. According to expense records and manifests for that trip, the cost for flight and crew alone was $424,142.

In April 2012, we exposed the costs associated with what the press described as Michelle Obama’s “whirlwind tour of Spain” in August 2010. According to a Judicial Watch analysis, the trip, which included visits to coastal towns, shopping and a lunch date with the country’s King and Queen, cost the taxpayers at least $467,585.

And yet, there’s more. In June 2013, we had to file FOIA lawsuit just to get basic information about the costs to taxpayers of Barack Obama’s February “boys’ weekend” in Palm Beach, Florida. Reporting on Obama’s retreat to the West Palm Beach “well-trod stomping ground of the rich,” WhiteHouseDossier.com observed, “While unemployment stands at nearly eight percent, Obama is taking his second vacation of 2013. The year is only six weeks old.”

Two vacations in just six weeks? But, that’s nothing new for the high-flying Obama. According to Breitbart.com: “Obama took 13 vacations in his first term, which spanned all or part of 83 days … His annual vacations to Hawaii alone have cost taxpayers at least $20 million during his first term. In 2011 alone, Michelle Obama may have cost taxpayers $10 million on vacations herself. Obama’s fantasy golf outing this year cost local law enforcement in Florida a reported $78, 205.”

And while Obama continues his shameless hijinks on the taxpayers’ tab, the American people are tightening their belts, living on less, and looking for jobs that are increasingly scarce. The Labor Department’s most recent employment report showed the economy adding a minuscule 162,000 jobs in July. Worse yet, as bestselling author Don Lambro reported, a large number of those jobs were in temporary, part-time, low-paying work, coming at a time when the government reduced its job creation estimates for the previous two months and said that workers not only earned less but worked fewer hours, as well.

But, not to worry. This past weekend, Barack Obama, Michelle, and the kids headed off to Martha’s Vineyard for yet another luxury vacation. The taxpayers will foot, again, a good part of the bill. All the criticism about his unnecessary luxury travel has not curtailed the Obama luxe tours one bit. It must be good to be king.

Tom Fitton is president of Judicial Watch.