October 1 2012

More on Lifestyles of the Rich and Elected

Charlotte Hays

So which family costs the taxpayers of their respective countries more money—the U.K.’s royal family or our First Family?

The Daily Caller reports:

Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.

In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.

These figures come from a new book, Presidential Perks Gone Royal, by Robert Keith Gray. Gray notes that the Obama family isn’t the first to avail themselves of the perks of office. But he also reports that the cost of maintaining the First Family have risen dramatically during their tenure.

Gray told the Daily Caller that the “most shocking” aspect of this is that the president is allegedly using taxpayer money to finance his re-election--that is, he uses Air Force One to travel to campaign events. But that isn’t by any means the only disturbing development.

Americans want our president to be safe and comfortable and to be surrounded by the ceremony proper for a republic. But does presidential dog Bo really require a full-time handler to the tune of a reported $102,000 salary? Bo and his handler attracted some attention when they were flown to Maine to be with the president on a holiday. I can’t imagine that FDR’s little dog Fala cost the taxpayer anything comparable.

The president has a full-time movie projectionist. What’s wrong with hiring somebody to come in for the night to run the movie for POTUS? Isn't that what ordinary millionaires and billionaires do?

The president can hire and pay staff members any salary the president deems correct without congressional approval.

I recognize that we can’t go back to these virtuous days:

As President, [John Quincy Adams] rose precisely at five A.M. (4:15 in the summers), made his own fire, read his Bible, and then took a morning walk or a swim in the Potomac. …

But certainly we can demand of our presidents, be they Democrats or Republicans, that they live in a manner seemly for the honorable leaders of this noble republic. That also includes living within our means to maintain the First Family.

It should be noted that it is not just our First Family that has royalist notions of what it requires—remember former speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spat with the Department of Defense over the size of the plane she could commandeer for her trips to San Francisco?

This is all a facet of the development of a government class that is different from you and me. You saw this phenomenon writ large in the GSA scandal but it extends to the White House. It is also predicated on taking money from us.

Fellow taxpayers—we must bring the personal spending habits of our employees into line with what we can afford—and with what is decent.
 

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