Where is President Donald Trump this weekend?
If you said his Mar-a-Lago estate, there’s a 54 percent chance you’re right and the Center For American Progress (CAP) is keeping track of all kinds of numbers related to Trump’s frequent Florida fly-away weekends.
The site Is Trump At Mar-a-Lago? tracks not only whether or not Trump is spending the weekend at the estate but also how much money it’s costing taxpayers.
And to twist the knife a little, it also calculates what that money could be used for instead of Trump’s weekends away, focusing on programs that are under the knife from the Trump administration.
For instance, according to the CAP, the $25 million reportedly spent thus far on Mar-a-Lago trips (including Easter weekend) could buy 9,000 meals for Meals on Wheels. Or it could fund 7,000 Pell Grants a year.
While we’re not yet even at the milestone 100 Day mark for the Trump presidency, one of the (many, many) eye-opening things about Trump’s tenure thus far is the large amount spent on time away from the White House.
As for CAP’s number of $25 million thus far, it should come with a grain of salt. They cite the U.S. Government Accountability Office as their source. The GAO is currently investigating the long-term costs at the request of a group of Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Much has been made in the media recently about Trump being on pace to spend in one year what President Obama spent on travel over his entire eight years in office.
But those numbers also deserve some skepticism. Most media reports, including CAP’s numbers, are all based on a previous GAO report on the cost for a 2013 trip by then-president Barack Obama to Chicago and Palm Springs, which was pegged at $3.6 million.
Do a little math seven Trump trips in three months works out to 28 trips over a year, times $3.6 million a trip using that Obama GAO report and you get over $100 million, a number that surpasses the $96 million that the conservative group Judicial Watch reported Obama spent on time off during his entire time in the White House.
Pres. Obama is about to embark on a 17 day vacation in his native Hawaii, putting Secret Service away from families on Christmas. Aloha!
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2013
But that’s assuming each Trump trip to Mar-a-Lago costs the same as that Obama trip, which likely isn’t the case since the trips aren’t exactly the same. Judicial Watch puts the number for each Trump trip much lower than what’s being reported, at around $1 million a trip.
But we won’t know until the GAO reports its findings.
Whatever the cost ultimately turns out to be, there’s no denying that spending 7 of 13 weekends in Florida is a steep ratio, even if a few of those trips were “business.” Factor in other costs, including those incurred in protecting First Lady Melania Trump and First Kid Barron Trump who are still currently in New York City, and, yeah, it seems that a hefty chunk of change is being spent by the Trump White House.
It’s Jan. 2. President Obama should end his vacation early & get back to Washington to straighten out the ObamaCare catastropheor end it.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
At least at a time when the Trump administration is facing criticism for these costs while also proposing a budget that significantly slashes many beloved programs (like the aforementioned Meals On Wheels), it won’t be haunted by a track record of attacks on a previous president for his vacation time.
Obama is on yet another two-day West Coast fundraising swing. Has to fit it in before his 15 day tax-payer funded vacation.
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2014
Because, man, that would be a PR nightmare, huh?