By Haddon Libby

Summer vacation takes the Obama family to Africa from June 26th to July 3rd.  They start in Senegal before heading to South Africa and finishing in Tanzania.  Accompanying them will be a Navy aircraft carrier with a fully staffed medical trauma center, military cargo planes transporting 14 limos, 42 support vehicles and three truck loads of bulletproof glass to install at the hotels where the Obamas will be staying at.  Fighter jets will fly over head 24/7 and over three hundred of secret service agents and other security personnel will accompany them to insure their safety.  The cost to you and me for the vacation is estimated at $100,000,000.

So that you don’t think this is just an Obama thing, both Bush presidencies and the Clinton presidency had similar costly trips.

Besides serving as a nice summer holiday for the first family, the trip serves the purpose of strengthening our relations with emerging democracies in the area.  Even so, the price tag seems excessive in light of domestic problems. Part of the reason that costs are higher than usual is because local governments do not have the resources to support a presidential visit.  As such, the U.S. must provide all of its own needs on the trip.


Did you know that Americans pay nearly $1.5 billion a year or $5 each in support of the President and his family?  This includes a Presidential dog handler who is paid over $100,000 a year, round the clock staffing for a Presidential family movie theatre as well as more than 225 staffers at more than $100,000 each.

This occurs with the backdrop of a budget deficit of $139 billion or $421 per American in May alone with total federal debt equalling $16.7 trillion or more than $50,000 for every American.

Given the severity of America’s financial problems, dialing back on expensive Presidential trips seems reasonable at this point in time.  Just think what America could do with the additional $100 million.   Assuming that saving the money is out of the question, let’s look at some of the recently cut programs caused by the sequestration process that are in dire need of funding:

• A food pantry in Murray, Utah that closed;
• Poverty fighting programs in some of the poorest areas of West Virginia;
• Medicare payments being limited causing many doctors to no longer serve the elderly;
• Meals on Wheels in Central Maine where many elderly are food insecure;
• Child care for low income families;
• Less staffing for many programs for special-education students;
• An alcohol and drug treatment center for Native Alaskans;
• Dozens of Regional Airport Control Towers across the U.S. that were shuttered;
• Education jobs focused on at-risk youth;
• Head Start programs in numerous cities that are closing, and;
• The closure of numerous campgrounds across our country.

As you can see, there are many, many areas that could benefit if $100 million was freed for domestic needs.

I have a few ideas of my own: What about seed capital to people trying to start their own businesses or maybe a tax holiday for new businesses adding jobs to the economy?

I don’t know if you have looked lately but the true unemployment rate is 15% nationally and higher locally.  While the economy has stabilized somewhat for a good portion of America, three out of every twenty people remain out of work.  This level of unemployment is alarmingly high this deep into a recovery.

With all of this as a backdrop, it might make sense for the President to have a staycation this year.