Report: Obama’s Christmas Vacation Likely to Top $4 million

Sunday, 23 Dec 2012 09:09 AM

By Paul Scicchitano

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While President Barack Obama and his family spend Christmas in Hawaii for the fifth straight year, federal and local taxpayers are likely to be left with a holiday bill that tops $4 million for the first family’s security and travel expenses to the exclusive retreat known for its turquoise waters and rolling surf, according to a published report.

Air Force One touched down in Honolulu minutes after midnight local time on Saturday. The first family departed the plane and traveled quickly to their vacation home in the beach town of Kailua, a scenic, sleepy resort on the east side of Oahu. The Obamas pay for their own accommodations, while taxpayers shoulder the costs of security and travel.

Though it is not clear how long the Obamas planned to stay in Hawaii about 12 miles from downtown Honolulu, the Hawaii Reporter estimated that the trip could cost taxpayers more than $4 million based on the nine-hour flying time to and from Washington and the high-priced resort accommodations for White House staff, Navy Seals, Coast Guard, and the Secret Service.

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The publication estimates that each leg of the nine-hour flight alone will cost taxpayers $1,635,813 for a roundtrip total of $3,271,622.

“While many residents welcome the first family, others are disheartened by the restrictions put on air, water, and road travel while the president and family are in town, especially because it is the holiday season and many families on vacation want to use their boats or surf and paddle in the welcoming ocean waves fronting the Kailua homes,” the publication reports. “In addition, the president's caravan of at least 22 vehicles including an ambulance can easily overwhelm the community that typically has single lane streets.”

The publication also reports that federal and local taxpayers are likely to foot the bill for the following additional estimated expenses:
  • The president’s staff typically stay at one of Hawaii’s oldest and most elegant hotels, the Moana Surfrider. A conservative estimate with rooms at $270 (excluding a 9.25 percent Transient Accommodation Tax and a 4.712 percent General Excise Tax on each bill, meals, Internet charges and other charges) adds up to more than $129,600 in hotel bills for some two dozen staff.
  • A USAF C-17 cargo aircraft that transports presidential limos, helicopters and other support equipment to Hawaii is estimated to cost $258,000, not including crew accommodations.
  • Secret Service, Coast Guard and Navy Seals are housed in beachfront or canal front properties near the president at a cost last year of about $200 per bedroom per day, or $21,600 per average home for at least seven homes.
  • The president’s advance security costs about $176,400.
  • Local police historically rack up $250,000 in overtime during presidential visits, which is paid by Oahu taxpayers.
  • A city ambulance generally costs about $10,000 to provide round the clock coverage.
  • The presidential security detail typically rents an entire floor of an office building in Kailua, but estimates were not available for this expense.
  • In addition, taxpayers pay for security upgrades and additional phone lines to private homes, including bullet proof glass and new security systems.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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