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Despite 'cliff,' preparations on for Obama Hawaii vacation

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The prospect of pitching over the federal “fiscal cliff” isn’t stopping the White House from moving forward with President Obama’s year-end Hawaii vacation plans.

Even as Republicans and Democrats report minimal progress so far in talks to meet a deadline to avoid sharp tax hikes and spending cuts, the White House was moving forward with the first family’s and friends’ $4 million vacation to Mr. Obama’s native state.

Residents living near the beachfront homes in Kailua where President Obama has vacationed every year since 2008 received alerts this week about the restrictions and expected travel disruptions associated with the president and first family’s visit, according to a story in the Hawaii Reporter.

In the weeks before the president arrives, the sleepy town of Kailua, with its miles of beautiful beaches, will be inundated by street barricades, U.S. Secret Service agents and the U.S. Coast Guard personnel stationed in the nearby canal and waters off Mr. Obama’s rented vacation home. The restrictions on local residents and other vacationers prevent the use of boats, surfing and paddling in the ocean in front of many of Kailua’s beach-front homes.

The president spent some of his childhood years in Hawaii but after law school and marrying wife Michelle, settled into life in Chicago, representing the area in the Illinois legislature before winning a U.S. Senate seat. Still, Mr. Obama brings his wife, two daughters, Sasha and Malia, the dog Bo, as well as several extended family members and friends to Hawaii the week of Christmas each year.

The vacation’s estimated $4 million cost has been controversial from the start. The president and his friends pay for their own rental homes, but the taxpayers pick up the bill for everything else – the cost of security, waterfront housing for the Secret Service, Navy Seals and Coast Guard, as well as accommodations for White House staff who are scheduled to stay at the luxurious Moana Surfrider Hotel on Waikiki Beach, where rooms can cost as much as $370 dollars a night for an ocean view at Christmas.

Other highlights from the Hawaii Reporter story:

  • The biggest expense is Mr. Obama’s roundtrip flight to Hawaii on Air Force One, which costs taxpayers $3,271,622.
  • The cost of flying the U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane that carries the presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii and back is $258,000.
  • The houses the Obamas rent are fronted by the ocean and backed by a canal so taxpayers have to cover the costs of housing the Secret Service, Coast Guard and Navy Seals in beachfront and canal homes for an estimated total cost of $176,400.
  • Local taxpayers pick up the tab for local police overtime and the use of the city ambulance that accompanies the president 24 hours a day, for a total of $250,000.

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at scrabtree@washingtontimes.com.

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