As Carol touched on yesterday, while the White House keeps its doors closed to the people under the guise of “devastating sequestration,” First Lady Michelle Obama is preparing for her glitzy 50th birthday party with performances by Adele and Beyonce. Although the party is being touted as private and therefore paid for by the Obamas, taxpayers will still have to foot the bill for secret service and other accommodations at the White House for the event. Meanwhile, President Obama just held a fancy dinner for Republicans just six blocks away from the White House and of course he took his massive motorcade to get there.
Charles Cooke over at NRO has tallied up the total for the Obamas’ cost of living in the White House: $1.4 billion per year.
The executive mansion is not in that much trouble, of course. It’s certainly not in sufficiently dire straits for Air Force One ($181,757 per hour) to be grounded, or to see the executive chef ($100,000 per year) furloughed, or to cut back on the hours of the three full-time White House calligraphers ($277,050 per year for the trio), or to limit the invaluable work of the chief of staff to the president’s dog ($102,000 per year), or to trim his ridiculous motorcade ($2.2 million). If Ellen DeGeneres wants another dancercize session or Spain holds another clothing sale, the first family will be there before you can say “citizen executive.” Fear ye not, serfs: Austerity may be the word of the week, but the president is by no means in any danger of being forced to live like the president of a republic instead of like a king.
The current annual cost of the White House — just in household expenses, not the policy operations for which it exists — is $1.4 billion: Annually, presidential vacations cost $20 million (the low estimate for one presidential vacation to Hawaii is $4 million, but the true cost is probably five times that); the first family’s yearly health-care costs are $7 million; more than $6 million is spent on the White House grounds each year. Transporting the president cost $346 million last year. But as Michelle Obama might say, America is basically a downright mean sort of place, so the tours will just have to go. One hopes at least that the calligraphers were recruited to sign the docents’ pink slips.