Time for some sequestration-scrutiny of Obama’s leisure time?
posted at 4:41 pm on March 7, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
It’s that time of year again — the time when the White House starts making preparations for the first family’s summer vacation. They skipped the usual Martha’s Vineyard visit last year in the heat of the campaign, but Politico reports that they’re returning to tradition this year:
President Obama and his family are likely headed to Martha’s Vineyard for a summer sojourn again this year.
A source tells POLITICO that the Secret Service has started booking accommodations on the toney island off the Massachusetts coast. (See update below)
So far, the White House isn’t saying anything, but the Vineyard is abuzz with the news. The first family is expected toward the end of August, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But if we thought Obama’s leisure outings were subject to scrutiny before, I bet that was hardly anything compared to the attention they’ll be getting now. After the White House announced they were cancelling tours, they had to know they were practically inviting criticism of their own spending habits, and Rep. Louie Gohmert almost immediately came up with an amendment that would shave off the president’s golf outings until such a time as the White House can manage to afford the tours again. Michael Shear posed the relevant question in the NYT:
For Mr. Obama, the months ahead will be tricky. Few people object to a president taking some time to relax — to work out, play basketball, sit on a beach, go to dinner. And like all presidents before him, Mr. Obama does all those things with the costly machinery of government orbiting around him.
But the budget cuts known as sequestration are going to have an outsize effect on government workers who, like Mr. Obama, get their paycheck from the federal treasury. Some will be furloughed as often as once a week. Others will lose overtime, forcing them to cancel vacations or trim household expenses.
So the president’s White House advisers are going to have to confront the question of how, or whether, to adjust his family’s activities. Should they go to Martha’s Vineyard? Will Michelle Obama and the couple’s daughters avoid trips like the ski vacation they took to Aspen last month? And what about the golf that Mr. Obama frequently plays at the nearby Joint Base Andrews?
Even if the White House is going to save $18,000 a week without the Secret Service needed for tours, how is that going to stand up to the taxpayer money needed for Secret Service accompanying the first family’s vacations? Not well, I’d wager.