The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man


This came up a few years ago, and it was fun to watch:

She told Anderson Cooper on CNN:

“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day,” Bachmann said. “He’s taking 2,000 people with him.

That was Michele Bachmann, previously congressional representative for Minnesota’s 6th district. Among other things, Bachmann pointed us to a book by John F. Groom titled The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man. Amazon no longer carries the book, and it may be out of print. However, the notes for the book are descriptive:

When President Barack Obama took First Lady Michelle Obama for a “date night” to New York City for dinner and a show, the tab cost American taxpayers $1 million.

Expensive date? Not really. After all, the Obama family spends about $9 million in taxpayer funds every year on their annual vacation to Hawaii, and it costs $711,000 for each night spent at Camp David.

But these charges are just a drop in the bucket. In total, Barack Obama has spent about $1.4 billion in household expenses each year since he became president, and this figure does NOT include the cost of running the White House’s policy operations – doing the job he was elected to perform.

The Obama White House is the most fiscally irresponsible in the history of the US presidency. In this scorching indictment of the spending habits of Barack Obama and his administration, author John F. Groom documents the president’s extravagant disregard for the value of taxpayers’ money.

It’s an arena of unfathomable excess and waste.

While Obama positions himself as a champion of the middle class and foe of Wall Street, the fact is that he lives a taxpayer-funded lifestyle that few if any moguls could afford. He is at the very top 1% of the 1%.

Obama promised “a new era of openness in government” when he came into office, but his own expenses are shrouded from public discovery, spread among numerous non-White House budget accounts, particularly under the Department of Defense.

In The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man: Costs of the Obama White House, Groom shines a floodlight on the first family’s staggering household budget.

Extensively documented, Groom’s disturbing exposé presents original research and analysis of data from federal budget documents, reports to Congress, independent investigations, scores of news service reports and information obtained directly from sources within the White House.

This is the only current study of its type and the first broad compilation of presidential household expense data in the Obama era.

Among the many cost centers Groom discloses, expenses incurred each year by US taxpayers include:

– First family’s vacations: $20 million.

– Health care: $7 million.

– Unreimbursed campaign expenses: $311 million.

– Salary costs for military employees and presidential airlift squadron: $228 million.

– And as part of the ongoing boondoggle of presidential travel – the helicopter fleet: $300 million. (Over $3.3 billion was spent designing a new presidential helicopter fleet, which Obama canceled; the helicopters already built were sold to Canada for $154 million.)

America’s founding may have signaled a break from the traditions of royalty, but President Obama’s household expenses far exceed those of the last remaining monarchies: The British royal family received less than $50 million in taxpayer funds in 2011, an amount that would keep the Obama White House running for about nine days.

Of course, the exaltation of his office is not solely the result of Obama’s grandiose self-image. The president’s transformation from first citizen to celebrity-in-chief is one for which the American public shares responsibility.

We must reform the US presidency. The president can have the resources necessary to do his or her job – and in fact do a better job – without squandering taxpayers’ money on a royal lifestyle.

In The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man, you’ll learn how we can fix this dismal state of affairs, return integrity to the office of the president and send the message throughout our government that wasteful, ostentatious spending will not be tolerated.

Our government is insolvent. Something has to change. That change needs to start at the top.

Whew! That’s a lot. Somebody should do a news item about this outrage. Somebody has. The apparent date is 17 February this year, and CNN commentator Don Lemon had on his show four guests to discuss the matter of runaway presidential expenses. A video is on  YouTube:

Published on Feb 17, 2017

On CNN Don Lemon’s show political Commentators Paris Dennard, Maria Cardona, Andre Bauer and Karine Jean-Pierre discusse the price of protecting the first family. The cost of President Trump’s family traveling expenses and security.

See the image above. Don Lemon is the guy in the large box on the left. Maria Cardona is the woman in the top left small box. Karine Jean-Pierre is the woman in the upper right. Paris Dennard is the guy in the lower left small box. Andre Bauer is the guy in the lower right. That straight, here is what the panelists had to say. The quotes are not exact.

Cardona: That’s fine. It is what it is. We have to protect the First Family.

Bauer: I’m a fiscal conservative, but there must be a way to rein in these costs.

Jean-Pierre: It’s complete hypocrisy. When President Obama made non-business trips he was roundly criticized by Republicans, especially Donald Trump as being the vacation president. Donald Trump said when he became president he would spend most of his time at work.

Dennard: This is a fake news story.

It was at that point Don Lemon told Dennard that this is not a fake news story, what they were talking about were things  that actually happened, and Dennard was, himself, part of the story by coming onto the show and taking part. This went back and forth a few rounds, and Lemon cut Dennard off at the knees and disinvited him from future participation.

I need to clear some things up first. Then I will get to the rest of the story. This is not fake news. As Lemon stated in his rebuttal to Bauer, fake news is reporting things known to be false. Deliberately lying to the audience. This business of presidents taking business trips and costing taxpayers money is real, not fake. And it is news.

That said, something seems to have been missed in this and other stories about presidential travel expenses. I must have covered all this in a previous post, but here it is again:

  • When the President takes a trip on government business, he rides on Air Force One, and the taxpayers pick up the entire tab. If the First Lady travels on the trip, she rides for free. Possibly presidential children. Non-essential family and friends of the President pay for a first class airline ticket. Other government officials traveling with the president as part of  their jobs fly for free.
  • When the President takes a non-business trip, he rides on Air Force One and pays a first class ticket. Same for all members of the president’s party. Other government officials traveling with the president as part of  their jobs fly for free.
  • The press corps typically send a delegation along with the President wherever the President travels. They pay first class tickets.
  • For important presidential trips, the press corps will sometimes send more reporters than can ride in Air Force One. In these cases the news media charter a plane to carry the overflow.
  • On business trips, the government picks up the tab for the President’s lodging. When President Trump stays at a Trump resort, the government pays for Trump to stay at his own property, and profits go into Trump’s pocket.
  • On non-business trips, the President must pay for his own stay.
  • All trips by the President incur huge costs for Secret Service protection. Taxpayers pick up the tab for this.

The bottom line is that when you hear about 300 people accompanying the President on a trip, business or non-business, non-government people pay their own way. These are largely members of the news media.

And that should be enough about that.


Some investigation has revealed the John Groom book is available in Nook from Barnes & Noble. Price is $2.99 plus tax. At slightly over 100 pages, it’s due a review. I obtained a copy.


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