President Barack Obama is surpassed in his penchant for hopping on Air Force One for a bit of globetrotting fun only by President George H.W. Bush. And the current chief executive has racked up at least $24 million in travel expenses this year alone, according to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.
According to the NTUF “Up in the Air” study of Presidential travel:
- President Obama was the second-most traveled President of all time for a single term, spending 95 days on 25 trips.
- In 2009, President Obama traveled more in his first year than any other President. Obama spent 41 days traveling to 21 different countries.
- The most updated figure on the cost per hour of operating Air Force One is $179,750, but this is just a tiny fraction of a President’s foreign travel plan, which includes back-up aircraft, aerial tankers, motor transport, security and diplomatic personnel, accommodations, and advance teams.
- In 2013, the President has made 4 international trips already, to the Middle East, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Africa — with at least 2 more trips planned to Moscow and Southeast Asia.
- President Obama has spent less time at his destinations than any President since Johnson, at an average of 3.8 days.
- Presidential entourages have grown quite large in the modern era! President Obama was accompanied by more than 500 staff (including security) during his 2009 trip to London. At least 200 security agents alone will be involved in the President’s current Africa trip.
- The First Lady has also been actively traveling, making trips to Ireland, Africa, Western Europe, and Copenhagen. When flying solo Michelle Obama would likely use a C-40B or C with a cost per flight hour of $19,755-$26,936, or a larger C-32 passenger jet, which has a cost per flight hour of $42,936.
The taxpayer advocacy group notes that the President did manage to cut back on his jet-setting near the end of his first term, as he shifted focus to the “most expensive” Presidential campaign in history.
At a time when American taxpayers are asked to shell out more money to the government and American bureaucracy is more prolific than ever before in its failings to balance the books, NTUF suggests that the citizenry should have more information about the reason for each Presidential excursion.
“The frequency and growing cost of Presidential travel call for more transparency, when it does not directly compromise security,” said NTUF researcher Michael Tasselmyer. “As it stands now, taxpayers are shelling out untold millions with little opportunity for oversight. No matter who is in office, Americans should have the facts they need to have a rational conversation on the merits and affordability of a Chief Executive’s journeys.”
The President’s most recent trip, to Africa, cost taxpayers $6,654,345 in Air Force One bills alone, according to reports. Some estimates indicate that the overall taxpayer cost of the trip could be as high as $100 million.