Being able to afford an extravagant summer vacation just isn't in the cards for many folks these days.
Family budgets tight and a vacation out of the country is a true luxury. That's not the case for our Washington elitists, including the First Family who recently toured Africa. That last presidential trip cost the taxpayers somewhere between $60 to $100 million. It's impossible to know since the exact total is classified by the White House.
Not all of President Obama's trips are for pleasure. He frequently mixes in the business of political fund raising. Just two months ago, for instance, he decided to help the Democratic Party by flying to two Chicago fund-raisers. The goal of Democrats is to regain the House in next year's mid-term elections.
"We've got kind of an Obama cabal in this room," the president joked during that $32,400-per-couple fund-raiser.
While the president was logging his $180,000 an hour flight to Chicago aboard Air Force One, First Lady Michelle Obama was also doing her part for the Democrats. She flew to Massachusetts for a luncheon at the Taj Boston Hotel where donors at that luncheon dolled out up to $37,600 per ticket.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, weren't idle. They were discussing "trade and investment" in Rio de Janeiro. Their six-day swing through Latin America also included visits to Trinidad and Tobago.
Beginning with his inauguration in 2009, Obama has already made 60 trips to 40 different countries, as well as Vatican City. This is in addition to his many trips within this country.
Democrats and this administration have been bemoaning the fact that the drastic spending cuts known as sequestration are taking a heavy toll. They need to look at their own spending.
This week we learned that The Pentagon is considering plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world. Defense officials say that the proposal would cut the pay from as many as 56,000 service members, including thousands of sailors who routinely travel through the Persian Gulf region on ships or airmen who fly over the Gulf.
The $225 monthly cut in pay would come regardless of the service member's base salary, which can range from a low of the $18,000 a year for a brand new recruit to a high of nearly $235,000 a year for a four-star general with more than 40 years in the military.
The total savings in this defense budget would be only about $120 million. That's about what it cost taxpayers to pay for those stupid videos, conferences and bonuses for the Internal Revenue Service employees.
Instead of going after danger pay of the military, there are some other areas that should be on the table such as the $1.5 billion in foreign aid sent to Egypt every year. Given the recent the military coup and instability in that nation, Sen. Rand Paul has proposed slashing that aid.
The hazard pay is also less than the value of the four F-16s that are still being sent to Egypt and an $83 million upgrade of the "Cairo West Air Base."
The foreign aid spending for Egypt and the travel miles being logged by Air Force One under the Obama administration are good starting points when looking for areas to cut spending.
By Jim Zbick