President’s recent trip costs too much
Soon after Air Force One landed Nov. 6, President Barack Obama stepped foot on Asian soil for a highly publicized and criticized 10-day tour.
The intent of the trip was to increase investments between India and the United States and create jobs for Americans, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Near the time of his departure, reports from various sources claimed that the president’s trip would cost American taxpayers $200 million per day, according to the NY Daily News.
U.S. Rep Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh all reported via various news sources that the cost for this trip would total around $2 billion. Other claims were made that 34 war ships were providing partial security and thousands of officials were also planned to go on the trip, according to the NY Daily News.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer issued a statement that claimed these numbers were wildly inflated.
“A recent article in the foreign press supposedly quoting an anonymous foreign official claimed that the president’s trip to Asia would end up costing American taxpayers $200 million per day and that 34 navy warships were being used for the trip. Certainly an astounding figure, were it true,” Pfeiffer said, according to the White House Blog. “But it’s not even close to true. So let us be unequivocal: the numbers reported have no basis in reality.”
The foreign press to which Pfeiffer refers may have been Indian news source NDTV, which claimed the $200 million per day figure.
Obviously, both sources cannot be correct. The White House could settle the matter easily by providing facts to disprove any fallacious allegations. Pfeiffer, however, refused to say in his statement the actual cost of the trip because of security concerns.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also commented, flatly saying he would not disclose the cost,
“I’m not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president. Costs are comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad,” Gibbs said, according to Annenberg Public Policy Center’s Factcheck.org.
The cost of this trip to Americans remains vague, yet some claims are truly ridiculous.
Bachmann appeared on CNN and claimed that the president was renting more than 870 rooms in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, according to the NY Daily News.
However, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel only has 560 rooms, according to the facility’s website.
It is unlikely the numbers that the right-wing claims are fully accurate. Those who have made the claims need to verify all information before creating uproar.
On the other hand, the White House should honor its promise for openness and transparency and could keep the public informed more effectively. Gibb’s overt response has a “none of your business” connotation. However, Americans are paying for this trip, automatically making it their business.
Whether security reasons really do prohibit exact numbers from being disclosed, Washington could and should provide more assurance to keep the rumors down and the people informed, if in fact the numbers have been inflated.