- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 21, 2017

It’s taken a while, but investigators from Freedom Watch have at last tabulated a final travel bill for former President Barack Obama, who made much use of America’s ultimate ride — the magnificent, but pricey Air Force One. Through persistent efforts over the years, the watchdog group has done the math and figured the total cost for Mr. Obama’s travel when in office. It’s just short of $100 million.

“We have carefully tracked the travel costs President Obama incurred, and we have an update. We have obtained records from the Secret Service and the Air Force in response to Freedom of Information Act requests that show Obama family travel cost taxpayers a grand total of $99,714,527,” reports director Tom Fitton. “Our nation has granted its presidents exquisite transport because we need for our leaders to be efficient and safe. However, we don’t need for them to luxuriate on our tax dollars.”

He is a precise investigator. The actual amount down to the last penny is $99,714,527 — and 82 cents.

The bill is based primarily on the cost to operate Air Force One — somewhere around $206,000 per hour, along with rental car fees, accommodations for personnel and other factors. Mr. Fitton has a few more information requests pending, primarily for Secret Service costs related to Mr. Obama’s travel after he left office and ventured to California and then a private resort in French Polynesia for a month.

With that, the tab can be closed out.

“For eight long years, the Obamas spent our tax dollars for a lavish jet-setting lifestyle. Many in the media only focus on President Trump’s travel, but Barack Obama continues to cost taxpayers with his luxury travel, and we aim to document it. Of course, we are also actively tracking the travel expenses of President Trump,” Mr. Fitton notes.

THE REAL REASON FOR EXTENDED TRUMP HATE

Several prominent columnists have already warned the liberal media and the Democratic Party to cut back on endless, negative news coverage about President Trump. It’s simply unsustainable. And boring. Critics run out of insulting adjectives, scandals dry up, voters get weary. Enough already.

So why does the caterwaul continue, even as Mr. Trump approaches his sixth month in office? It’s about money and momentum.

“Lots of people on the Left are making money, buoyed by a level of anger and discontent among the Democrat base that has not been seen since the election of Abraham Lincoln,” points out Thomas Lifson, founder of American Thinker.

“Along with money and enthusiasm, the ‘Blame Russia Strategy’ has created soaring expectations among the voter base that President Trump will be removed from office because the evidence of treason — so far lacking — just must be there, simply because they desire it so deeply. They see daily revelations in the mainstream media that have created an artificial atmosphere of certainty,” Mr. Lifson continues.

“The media they see never backtrack and apologize for their exaggerations and falsehoods. The drumbeat continues unabated, and the animal spirits of the mob exceed the ability of norms to moderate them.”

MONEY WOES FADING

“Americans are less worried about eight specific financial issues than they were last year, with concerns about some issues falling to their lowest levels in a decade or more,” reports Justin McCarthy, a Gallup analyst.

“U.S. adults are most concerned about not having enough money for retirement and not being able to pay medical costs of a serious illness or accident, with 54 percent saying they are ‘very’ or ‘moderately’ worried about each. These two concerns have typically been the most worrisome issues for Americans since Gallup began asking about the collection of eight financial worries in 2001.”

Forty percent fret about maintaining their “standard of living, down from 51 percent last year. Thirty one percent are concerned about paying normal bills, down from 41 percent, 26 percent worry about paying the rent or mortgage, down from 34 percent and 17 percent worry about credit card bills, down from 21 percent.”

There are marked partisan perceptions, however. Republicans appear afloat with optimism, Democrats in the doldrums. See the numbers in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.

THE GOP TREASURE CHEST

The Grand Old Party is a little grander this year. The Republicans National Committee has raised a tidy $51 million in 2017 thus far, plus there is zero debt and a healthy $41.4 million on hand following a few disbursements. Party leaders say the implications are positive, even dramatic.

“The unprecedented fundraising by the RNC is due to one simple fact. Americans at every income level believe that the Trump administration, Republican House and Senate represents the single greatest moment in modern history to improve the lives of our citizens,” said finance chairman Steve Wynn.

FOXIFIED

Fox News Channel’s chief political anchor Bret Baier has already been reporting live from Saudi Arabia this weekend to cover President Trump’s first foreign trip, which has been spectacular so far.

On Monday in particular, Mr. Baier will anchor live from Riyadh, set to interview members of the Saudi Royal Family, key members of the Trump administration and Muslim leaders. Their reactions to Mr. Trump’s presence in their nation should be interesting. And speaking of spectacular, first lady Melania Trump — at home on the global stage — has already garnered much positive press on her own.

POLL DU JOUR

45 percent of Republicans worry about having enough money for retirement; 58 percent of Democrats agree.

44 percent of Republicans worry about serious medical costs; 61 percent of Democrats agree.

34 percent of Republicans worry about normal health care costs; 42 percent of Democrats agree.

30 percent of Republicans worry about maintaining their standard of living; 48 percent of Democrats agree.

27 percent of Republicans worry about paying normal monthly bills; 34 percent of Democrats agree.

22 percent of Republicans worry about paying for their children’s college; 38 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,019 U.S. adults conducted April 5-9 and released Friday.

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