In April, I traveled to Washington, D.C. As is my practice, while in town I made an appointment to see my Congressman. The aide who confirmed my visit warned me to allow extra time because sequestration had resulted in laying off several security guards.
The unfortunate laid-off individuals came to mind earlier this week when I read in the Washington Post that President Obama and his family are off again on another extravagant vacation that will set taxpayers back tens of millions. The Obama family destination this time is Africa; projected cost: $100 million, the most expensive of all his scandalously lavish vacations.
The Post revealed that to provide the United States president the security he must have in the event of an emergency during his five-night trip, a Navy aircraft carrier with a fully staffed medical trauma center will be stationed offshore. In addition, military cargo planes will airlift in 56 support vehicles, including 14 parade limousines, a fully loaded ambulance, and three trucks carrying bulletproof glass to cover the hotel windows where the Obamas will stay. Fighter jets will fly in shifts to provide around the clock coverage over the president’s airspace.
Although Obama’s trip falls under the guise of official government business, it’s a total rip-off. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said that the emerging African democracies on the president’s itinerary are crucial partners with the U.S. in regional security conflicts. Obama will allegedly hold bilateral meetings with each country’s leader to forge stronger economic ties and will reportedly also highlight global health programs including HIV/AIDS prevention — tedious falsehoods that taxpayers have heard multiple times in an attempt to justify previous trips to Africa made by presidents Bush, Clinton and Bush.
Not to fear, the Obamas will return in plenty of time to make their fourth annual trek to Martha’s Vineyard, the preferred destination of elite millionaires. Their 2009, 2010 and 2011 vacations were spent at the Blue Heron Farm, a 28-acre estate with two full-sized homes, a boathouse, a reassembled 150-year-old barn, tennis and basketball courts, multiple gardens and an apple orchard.
However, since this palace sold in December 2011 for $21.9 million, it’s no longer on the rental market. The Boston Globe identified the lush Farm Neck section of Martha’s Vineyard as the Obama’s second choice. Michelle and the children will vacation there for “an extended period” with Obama joining them on weekends, via Air Force One, and for two weeks at the end of August.
Getting back to the laid-off security guards’ plights, they probably earned minimum wage or a few pennies more. Maybe they were part-time workers who needed the job to help support their family. Or maybe they’re recent university graduates who couldn’t find a job but have college loans to pay off.
Obama must consider the security guards, the employees who once gave White House tours that sequestration cancelled and the Secret Service staff who lost their positions when the budget was slashed by $84 million to be, as Leona Helmsley infamously said, “little people.”
Americans regardless of their political affiliation are offended by the selfish, blatant disregard the president shows toward the working class who helped elect him.
Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. He is a registered Independent equally disgusted by both Republicans and Democrats. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.