On Monday, President Trump will return to Washington, D.C. from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he’s spent the last three weekends.
The Washington Post reports that those three trips “probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.”
So far, the highlight of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips has been him and his aides struggling to deal with an international crisis in full view of diners and staff during the evening of February 11.
The three Mar-a-Lago getaways, combined with the hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent on Secret Service protection during two international trips Trump’s adult sons have taken to promote their father’s business, cost taxpayers about $11.3 million over the first month’s of Trump’s presidency, according to the UK-based Independent. President Obama, by contrast, spent an average of $12.1 million on travel each year.
It wasn’t even a year ago that Trump was complaining about taxpayers “paying a fortune for the use of Air Force One.”
It was a theme Trump returned to often during the Obama years.
Trump’s decision to spend three consecutive weekends at his “southern White House” stands in contrast to what he promised during the campaign, when he said he’d “rarely leave the White House.”
“I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done,” Trump told a reporter in 2015. “I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off… You don’t have time to take time off.”
While in Florida on Sunday, Trump, who repeatedly criticized Obama for playing golf while president, enjoyed his sixth golf outing during his first month as president. On Monday, the White House admitted to misleading reporters about the amount of golf Trump played during his 18-hole excursion with pro golfer Rory McIlroy:
Taxpayers are also on the hook for protecting First Lady Melania Trump, who has decided to continue living in New York City. According to the Post, police officials estimate the annual cost of guarding Trump Tower could be as high as $183 million.
Trump stands to benefit from all these taxpayers expenses. In order to have constant access to the commander-in-chief, the military is forced to rent space in Trump Tower at a taxpayer cost estimated to be $1.5 million annually, with the money lining the Trump family’s pockets. Relocating the executive branch to Mar-a-Lago each weekend raises the profile of the club and encourages people to pay for the access a $200,000 membership provides. And the Trump sons’ international business trips generate free publicity for the Trump Organization, while their appearances at the White House reinforce the message that doing business with them is a way to gain access to their father.
While Trump spent millions in taxpayer dollars on travel during his first month in office, his team put together a budget proposal that would cut cultural institutions and important services for poor people.
The proposal would eliminate “longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities,” the New York Times reports. “Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year.”