Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Washington Times is to be commended for drawing attention to President Obama’s 56 trips to battleground states so far this year (“White House: Obama’s travel is not excessive,” Web, Nov. 28).

Granted, the $181,000 per hour cost cited is elevated by foreign travel, but the figure excludes the salaries of the full-time staff whose primary job responsibility is to facilitate use of Air Force One. If Congress and the president were serious about cutting government waste, Air Force One would be a good place to start.

In those rare instances where the president needs to be flown out of Washington for security reasons, he could be flown in a regular military plane. It seems highly improbable, after all, that the Secret Service would allow takeoff from a commercial airport in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.

Taxpayer-funded presidential flights would arguably be legitimate for overseas diplomatic events where flying in the aircraft has a reasonable chance of achieving a desirable outcome. But it is unlikely that the $9 million price tag of Mr. Obama’s mid-November trip to Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia is worth the cost in the age of telephones and the Internet. Mr. Obama has indisputably abused the privilege.

If he sincerely believes that flying to give speeches is worth the money, he should pay for it out of his own campaign funds ($89,473,611 through the third quarter, according to If he is re-elected, he should do what some other multimillionaires have done and buy a personal jet.



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