High On The Hog

Vacation, all I ever wanted

Vacation, had to get away

Vacation, meant to be spent alone

            —The Go-Go’s, Vacation

Let me set this scene for you.

We are over $16 trillion in debt (over $90 trillion if you count unfunded liabilities such as future Social Security commitments), and hemorrhaging money at a rate literally never before seen in human history.

The U.S. Census Bureau now tells us that more than 50 million Americans are below the poverty line.  That’s a level that hasn’t been seen since LBJ launched the “war on poverty”—one wonders at what point we say that war’s been a failure.  We continue to have official unemployment at nearly 8%, with real unemployment above 14%; 12 million Americans are out of work, and the labor force participation rate continued to drop as another 100,000 people left the work force. 

As Princess Leia once quipped: Wow, this is some rescue.

It is against this backdrop that I want you to picture the Life of Riley going on down at Obama Manor, because I think it illustrates how little this President cares about you and America and how much he cares about himself.  By now you’re familiar with the First Family’s annual summer soirees with the rich and famous out on Martha’s Vineyard.  You’re also already aware that the Obama family this past New Year’s once again took their regular winter trip to Hawaii.  I don’t begrudge the President a vacation, but do he and his wife really need to take his and her matching private 747s to do it?

Having just returned in January from what I’m sure was an exhausting stay in the Aloha State, the Obamas needed separate vacations in February to recover.  The President took Air Force One over Presidents’ Day weekend to the exclusive Floridian Club in Palm City, Florida, where he flew in celebrity golf instructor Butch Harmon to the tune of $1000 per hour, and played golf with Tiger Woods and Houston Astros owner (and Obama mega-donor) Jim Crane.  Meanwhile, Michelle and the girls took a separate taxpayer-funded charter to go skiing in Aspen (the identical trip last year cost taxpayers at least $89,000, according to records obtained by JudicialWatch).

Fast-forward a whole month, and it’s time for yet another vacation.  This time it was the girls—with their Secret Service entourage in tow, all on the taxpayer dime—heading off for a Spring Break fling in the Bahamas, followed by yet another ski trip, this time to Sun Valley, Idaho.  That’s four (technically five, but since they were together I’ll count Hawaii as one) vacations for the First Family in three months.  All at over-the-top high-end resorts.  All with security details and their associated public expense along for the ride.  And never mind that they essentially privatize any venue at which they play—if the President plays golf or the First Daughters go skiing, that venue basically has to be closed to the public.

Not to be left out of the boondoggle, Genius Joe has himself taken three vacations already this year, traveling via Air Force Two to the Virgin Islands in January, to Snowmass, Colorado for skiing over Presidents’ Day weekend in February—meaning that that weekend there were actually two separate taxpayer-funded executive branch ski trips to two separate ski resorts in Colorado, in addition to the President’s golf excursion—and then to Kiawah Island off the coast of South Carolina.  Add into that Biden’s separate February “official” trip to Europe, where his limousines and lodging alone cost taxpayers over $1.3 million, and that’s eight executive family trips this year alone.

Hawaii.

The Virgin Islands.

Aspen.

Snowmass.

The Floridian.

London and Paris.

Kiawah Island.

The Bahamas and Sun Valley.

I will confess I’ve been to Hawaii, Aspen/Snowmass (one trip combined) and London/Paris (also one trip combined, and part of that was on business), but it took me seventeen years to do it, and I’ve only been to each of them once.  This is the travel itinerary for the executive families just over the last three months, and they’re doing it almost entirely at your expense . These are your self-proclaimed champions of the middle class. 

Look, I get it that at least as far as the President is concerned he’s theoretically never really on vacation.  But that same notion doesn’t apply to the Vice President or the First Family (and yes, if they’re going to galavant around the world on my nickel, Michelle and the girls are fair game).  And it’s beside the point, which isn’t the President taking some time off.  The point is the breathtaking level of blindness to the disconnect between the scale and splendor of this adminstration’s lifestyle vis-à-vis the fiscal and economic conditions for this country and the vast majority of us in it.  Other Presidents have taken vacations; but Reagan, Carter, and both Bushes took those vacations by going to their respective homes (or, in Carter’s case, on modest fishing trips in his native Georgia).  They didn’t vacation once a month, and they didn’t do it on taxpayer expense at resorts and venues even Robin Leach couldn’t get into.

Now I learn that while “sequestration” has the White House closed to tour buses of schoolchildren, the Obamas are continuing to host private exclusive concerts by the biggest names in music.  The latest shindig will include the likes of Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, Al Green, and Cyndi Lauper—not exactly Willie and the Po’ Boys down on the corner.  But although Mrs. Obama swears that the White House is your house, too, you think the public can get in to see this event?

No chance in hell.

The President makes $400,000 per year—eight times the U.S. median income.  The Vice President makes $231,900.  In addition, they have rent-free lodging in the most exclusive residences in the country, 24 hour armed security, free four-star food, free transportation, etc.  Now we have them (and their families) taking lavish vacation upon lavish vacation, hosting private concerts with top-line acts, and generally living, well, like kings.  All at a time when we have record numbers on food stamps, 1960s level poverty numbers, and continuing stagnant unemployment.

I can’t figure out why there isn’t more outrage about this, particularly among the black community, which continues to be hardest hit during the continuing recession–er, “recovery.”  For blacks as a subgroup the situation is much worse than the nation as a whole, with the official unemployment rate at 13.8%, and some 2.3 million black Americans jobless.  How many of you in the black community have ever been to Martha’s Vineyard even once?  Hawaii?  How many of you have taken your own private 747 to do it?  How many of you have taken three vacations in a year, much less in a quarter?

Didn’t think so.

You think this President gives a crap about you or anyone else, other than as a means to his personal ends?

Think again.

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