Video: WH saving $18,000 a week canceling tours

posted at 9:21 am on March 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The decision to close the White House to visitors after the budget sequester took effect is a classic example of the “Washington Monument” strategy to fight budget cuts (similar to the “fireman first” strategy).  The first person to try this was George Hartzog, director of the National Parks Service, who in 1969 closed the Washington Monument and other attractions in response to a cut in his budget from Congress.  It didn’t work out so well for Hartzog, who got fired — but Congress did restore the funding.

In this case, though, the optics might not play as well in favor of the gameplayers.  First, as ABC and the Weekly Standard report, the cuts that are supposedly prompting this as a necessity are a reduction of $84 million in a $1.66 billion Secret Service budget, representing just a 5.2% reduction in an annual budget that increased $150 million from FY2011′s $1.511 billion.  Second, as it turns out, $84 million buys a lot of White House tours:

“Republicans accuse the White House of playing politics,” reports ABC. “But the White House says it is canceling the tours because sequester spending cuts have sliced $84 million out of the Secret Service’s $1.6 billion budget. And they are the ones who secure the tours. They wouldn’t say how much this saves, so, we did some math. Tours are open 20 hours a week and use 30 uniformed Secret Service officers at about $30 an hour. Total saved? Approximately $18,000 a week.”

Let’s go back to Barack Obama’s efforts to campaign to incite Sequester Hysteria in the last couple of weeks before the oh-so-devastating cuts hit.  He traveled more than 5200 miles on Air Force One to a series of rallies intended to pressure House Republicans into calling off the sequester, rather than walk the one mile or so down Pennsylvania Avenue to tell Harry Reid to produce an alternative in the Senate.  In last week’s column for The Fiscal Times, I did the math on just how much that cost taxpayers:

President Obama has traveled thousands of miles to sound the alarm over the cuts, which he now claims will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs – over 5200 miles in travel just over the last two weeks. With Air Force One’s cruising speed of 575 MPH, Obama has spent $1.6 million in the air alone fighting the spending cuts of the sequester.

That would have paid for 88 weeks of White House tours.  The Secret Service budget increased $66 million from FY2011 to the sequestered level of FY2013.  That pays for three thousand, six hundred and sixty-six weeks of White House tours, or over 70 years of tours.  I’ll bet if the Secret Service cut back on its drinks-and-hookers expenses while overseas, we could get that to round up to an even 4,000 weeks, too.

George Hartzog got fired for his Washington Monument strategy.  Someone at the White House deserves the same fate for this transparent and amateurish attempt to copy him.


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“they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives”

Let’s hope so.

forest on March 7, 2013 at 9:26 AM

What’s 18,000 / 3,700,000,000,000 ?

mjbrooks3 on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Cancel Messina’s subscription to “Bestiality Video of the Week Club” and a large portion of this money can be made-up.

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

He took his ball and went home.

docflash on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Obama has opened the door for mocking and criticism with this one. Is there any chance that a Republican will have the stones to walk through it?

dirtseller on March 7, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Yeah….no one is going to get fired

Sad

cmsinaz on March 7, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Did they lay off the 30 uniformed cops? Of course not. So, they are still drawing the $30/hr but just not doing anything. BTW: $30/hour for a cop?

Dingbat63 on March 7, 2013 at 9:30 AM

I’ll bet if the Secret Service cut back on its drinks-and-hookers expenses while overseas,

Woo, woo, woo. Let’s not do anything too radical here. Drinks and hookers is a core function here, not something extra like securing the White House. What’s next, asking Michelle to give up a vacation to the French Riviera?

rbj on March 7, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Secret Service agents are salaried employees. They get paid whether they are doing white house tours or not. Unless the agency laid off the 30 agents, there is NO savings. Zero, Zip Nada.

All they have done is to idle 30 more federal workers – what else is new?

sclemens on March 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Sequester Hysteria

“Sequest-eria” or “Sequesterysteria

word fun. er…/

ted c on March 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

“They wouldn’t say how much this saves, so we did some math…”

Hold it right there Skippy. You’re about to do some actual journalism – and math. A double-secret violation.

I like the intro to the segment “People have been e-mailing us today…” Probably would have preferred to ignore it, but those doggone smelly tourists and their e-mails.

forest on March 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

well look, if it saves one life, then it was all worth…
oops… wrong thread.

ted c on March 7, 2013 at 9:32 AM

and do you think Scott, Brian or Diane could pull out a calculator and report back some simple truth?

hillsoftx on March 7, 2013 at 9:33 AM

if this generates a stack of letters that happens to appear on someone’s desk, will we see a sad face :( ?

ted c on March 7, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Yeah….no one is going to get fired

Heck, they’ll probably get raise.

tommyboy on March 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

WH Taxpayers saving $18,000 a week canceling tours

Fixed.

Good Lt on March 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

George Hartzog got fired for his Washington Monument strategy. Someone at the White House deserves the same fate for this transparent and amateurish attempt to copy him.

You could fund the program for an entire year just on what it cost the American taxpayer for the rat-eared wonder to play golf in Florida while his worthless radical whore of a spouse and the mini-moochers spent the weekend in Aspen.

We have Camp David for a reason. Perhaps somebody should remind the filthy bastard that the facility has far more uses than just skeet shooting.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

He took his ball and went home.

docflash on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Hey Barry! That’s our ball!

onomo on March 7, 2013 at 9:37 AM

Why does Obama hate children?

claudius on March 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

sclemens on March 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Good point on the Secret Service salaries.

Maybe the next lie will be about the janitors’ pay – again.

forest on March 7, 2013 at 9:38 AM

How much did the fancy dinner for 15 or so people at the White House last night cost. I doubt those grifters were eating Chunky Soup and the wine alone had to be in the thousands.

Bishop on March 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Secret Service agents are salaried employees. They get paid whether they are doing white house tours or not.

sclemens on March 7, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Rest assured, the Secret Service is not doing White House tours. They are done by volunteers. Which is why this is a faux savings anyway because all it does is cut down on some individual’s workload of having to coordinate the visits of those smelly tourists.

In the meantime, the White House is maintaining the positions of its calligrapher and her two assistants. That runs the taxpayer about $200K/year.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 9:39 AM

…that’s not even a fraction of the cost of a golf outing… for JugEars!

KOOLAID2 on March 7, 2013 at 9:52 AM

For a fun look at the US bureaucracy and apocalypses, check in at . I remember all his apocalypses.

Old Country Boy on March 7, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Heck, they’ll probably get raise.

tommyboy on March 7, 2013 at 9:35 AM

Funny you should say that . . .

Naturally Curly on March 7, 2013 at 9:55 AM

By my calculations, that amounts to just $6 per ticket! Just charge for tickets to cover the cost of the tour. Unless of course you are more interested in scoring a political point.

topdog on March 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Taking work away from hard working tour bus drivers (most on contract, not salaried).
Less hotel stays
Less dining and other entertainment
Less souvenirs (ok, less Hope and change posters sold is a bonus)

Destroying the DC economy 1 family trip at a time.

Thanks Obama! It’s the PEOPLE’S house, not yours.

can_con on March 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM

That should be the thediplomad.blogspot.com It didn’t take.

Old Country Boy on March 7, 2013 at 9:57 AM

By my calculations, that amounts to just $6 per ticket! Just charge for tickets to cover the cost of the tour. Unless of course you are more interested in scoring a political point.

topdog on March 7, 2013 at 9:56 AM

People shouldn’t have to pay to get a look at “their” house. Billing people for all the parties, state dinners, and other activities by the First Grifters are another matter.

Happy Nomad on March 7, 2013 at 10:03 AM

This is nothing more than the president throwing one of his temper tantrums. He knows how insignificant the cost of giving tours is, he’s just in “I’ll show you” mode. Again. The White House will still be open to tours if Jay Z or Beyonce wanted one, just not children who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to give.

scalleywag on March 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

So the sequestration has the White House saving $18k a week & having TSA spending $50 million on uniforms. Something doesn’t add up here?!

Conservative4Ever on March 7, 2013 at 10:12 AM

The fact that an adult in the highest political position in the country is doing this is just absurd. He truly is a worthless scumbag.

WisCon on March 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM

He took his ball and went home.

docflash on March 7, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Hey Barry! That’s our ball!

onomo on March 7, 2013 at 9:37 AM

I say let him. He doesn’t have any of his own.

Archivarix on March 7, 2013 at 10:16 AM

All considered, including Secret Service costs, that’s probably about what a round of golf for Dear Leader costs the taxpayers. And then are Moochelle’s “vacations”.

Some things are more important than WH tours for the peasants. Let them see photos of the WH instead.

farsighted on March 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

This is when Trump should step up and over bo and pay the bill.

tim c on March 7, 2013 at 10:22 AM

One thing low-information voters who only hear Obama sound bites still know is that there is a LOT of government waste.

When they see a critical service cancelled they use they automatically cry foul but what Obama doesn’t seem to see is that we always think the “waste” in somewhere they don’t use services.

The low-information voter isn’t going to look at no WH tours sand say “We all have to make sacrifices” They are going to say “Come on, are you using your head?”

Being seen as incompetent is the last thing Obama can afford. His going to the mat on this hurt him.

Conan on March 7, 2013 at 10:22 AM

What I would question is the competency of any group that scheduled any trips to Washingon D.C. around the time of potential Government shutdown.

Mitoch55 on March 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

I guess no chance of cutbacks affecting supplies of Wagyu beef and Atlantic lobshter for big Mooch?

slickwillie2001 on March 7, 2013 at 10:41 AM

My guess is that these 30 agents are still getting paid whether they do the tours or not. Do you actually think they got fired? So nothing is being saved I’ll wager.

rich8450 on March 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Hey that’s great. Now a million more of those and we have $18bn in cuts already. See how smart the WH is?

jake49 on March 7, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Troll free thread?

CurtZHP on March 7, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Given that we don’t have a budget, how can there be a budget? Just askin’.

unclesmrgol on March 7, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Obama hates the children!

He really blew it on this one. I think the PR is going against him FINALLY.

PattyJ on March 7, 2013 at 11:19 AM

your’re all missing the sham here. Are we to assume these 30 seret service agents are to be furloughed???? The point is: The tours have stopped but the cost continues on…

supersport667 on March 7, 2013 at 11:28 AM

And, of course, it’s not like these Secret Service agents do nothing but the tours. They won’t be let go, and their salary and benefits recouped. They will still be there securing the White House, or reassigned elsewhere. Total savings? $0

GWB on March 7, 2013 at 11:31 AM

What I would question is the competency of any group that scheduled any trips to Washingon D.C. around the time of potential Government shutdown.

Mitoch55 on March 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Some of those tours are scheduled months in advance. Some are scheduled over a year in advance. They’re supposed to give up their plans to see the people’s house because the goobers in DC can’t govern?

GWB on March 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Obama didn’t want people in “His House” anyway.

SC.Charlie on March 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

What I would question is the competency of any group that scheduled any trips to Washingon D.C. around the time of potential Government shutdown.

Mitoch55 on March 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Many of these tours are for school field trips that are planned annually. This one actually affects my daughter’s trip coming up next month. To say she is pi55ed off is an understatement. This move by barky is nothing more than “make it hurt” so that the LIV will blame it on the R’s when everyone knows that the blame falls squarely in barky’ s lap.

D-fusit on March 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

My idea of true savings is running all of the political pigs in perpetuity out of town, on a rail.

Sequester the shit out of everything. Shut down the White House. Shut down Congress. Shut down the Supreme Court.

America would be better off.

OhEssYouCowboys on March 7, 2013 at 12:01 PM

The cancelation of the White House Tours smells like a dump-on Congress. The tours are the domain not of the WH but of the members of Congress. Public tours of the White House are available. Requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress. It is the Congressmen that benefit from setting up the tours. It is the Congressman that are being punished by the White House.

The funding for the tours does not come from the WH Budget but from a combination of several budgets such as Home Land Security and others. This is a favorite trick of our Government to hide real costs.

jpcpt03 on March 7, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Total savings? $0

Punishment for not getting his way? Priceless.

katablog.com on March 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Yet another point (YAP). The tours are Self Guided and only for 20 hours a week. At $18,000/week that is $900/hour for a Self Guided Tour the funding which is hidden in a maze of other budgets? Sounds like something to YAP about.

jpcpt03 on March 7, 2013 at 12:24 PM

He could have pulled a “Harry Truman” and walked. (It would have been “green” and saved lots of algae fuel–isn’t that what the use in WH vehicles?) It would have given his 150 man swat team some exercise. Of course exposing the public to all that heavy artillery would have been scary.

Maybe the reason to go out was that WH windmills were not turning fast enough to generate enough power for the lights.

KenInIL on March 7, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Video: WH saving $18,000 a week canceling tours

If they add about a hundred million dollars to that it will almost be a rounding error.

RJL on March 7, 2013 at 3:09 PM