The so-called paper of record is only about four years late to this story. They should expect an IRS audit any moment now.
Perhaps it is nothing more than an accident of timing that as federal workers brace for a summer filled with unpaid furlough days, their leaders are traveling the nation and globe on trips that exude luxury.
On Wednesday, President Obama left the White House for two Chicago fund-raisers in the hope of helping Democrats retake the House in next year’s elections. The cost of flying aboard Air Force One to his hometown: $180,000 per hour.
The same day, Michelle Obama traveled to Massachusetts to lunch with rich donors who had paid up to $37,600 per ticket at the Taj Boston Hotel. The meal included roasted Chilean sea bass with a fricassee of asparagus. Meanwhile, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill, were in Rio de Janeiro, part of a six-day swing through Latin America to discuss trade and investment, including a stop in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We’ve got kind of an Obama cabal in this room,” the president joked Wednesday night during a $32,400-per-couple fund-raiser with about 70 of his friends at the home of Bettylu and Paul Saltzman, longtime supporters. He said returning to Chicago for the day was like “Old Home Week.”
For a leader presiding over automatic budget cuts and a slow-moving economic recovery, there are growing political costs to presidential travel. Every move a president makes costs money, and in an era when money is in short supply, that means heightened scrutiny. Vacations are especially touchy.
With all that flying in just one day he then had the gall to call people climate deniers. This from the guy with the biggest carbon footprint on the planet.
But this summer’s trips come as federal employees are tightening their belts. Last Friday, four federal agencies closed down — the Environmental Protection Agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and even the Office of Management and Budget — as employees were ordered to take the first of several unpaid days off.
Many workers are canceling summer vacations of their own. Across the government, cutbacks are everywhere. The Blue Angels did not fly at the Naval Academy commencement, Head Start programs are turning away children, and there are no summer jobs for college students to cut the grass at Antietam.
In a nod to the pain that federal employees are feeling, Mr. Obama announced in April that he would cut his salary by $20,000.
Despite that gesture of solidarity, the president’s official and political trips still generate second-guessing. This summer he plans a diplomatic foray to Africa that will cost millions of dollars and involve hundreds of security, communications, military and technical personnel, just as it did when George W. Bush and Bill Clinton went. White House officials said they were not deterred by fear of criticism, although some said the president would probably avoid safari time.
Wow, such sacrifice.