Monday, February 20, 2017

American Taxpayers Paying Billionaire Trump's High Cost of Living


This Friday, President Trump and his entourage jetted out for the third straight weekend to a “working” getaway at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Many remember when he told the Hill newspaper in 2015, “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.” It seems he has forgotten his pledge.

Especially troubling beyond the expense is the Trump family’s unprecedented commingling of their business with the presidency, Already Trump has attended a ball hosted by the Red Cross before holding a Super Bowl party at his club. The Atlantic reported “the Red Cross, a federally chartered organization, paid around $300,000 for the privilege of hosting the event at the president’s estate, while the Super Bowl party blurred the line between paying the Trump Organization to have a good time and paying the Trump Organization for the chance to bend the president’s ear.”

(Jeremy Venook. “Why the Trumps' Travel Expenses Matter. The Atlantic. February 07, 2017.)

On Saturday, Trump’s sons Eric and Don Jr., with their Secret Service details in tow, were nearly 8,000 miles away in the United Arab Emirates, attending the grand opening of a Trump-brand golf resort in the “Beverly Hills of Dubai.” This trip comes at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

And meanwhile, New York police will keep watch outside the Trump Tower in Manhattan, the chosen home of first lady Melania Trump and son Barron. And, the tiny township of Bedminster, N.J., is preparing for the daunting prospect that the local Trump golf course will serve as a sort of northern White House for as many as 10 weekends a year.

(Drew Harwell, Amy Brittain, and Jonathan O'Connell. “Trump family’s elaborate lifestyle is a ‘logistical nightmare’ — at taxpayer expense.” The Washington Post. February 17, 2017.)

Mind you, this is a man who ran for president with promises to cut exorbitant expenses and “drain the swamp” of wasteful politicians. He explicitly pitched his platform in opposition to “crooked” politicians enjoying themselves on the taxpayers’ dime. Trump spent much of the campaign slamming wealthy elites, yet he has larded his cabinet with billionaires. And, he is quickly becoming what he claims to oppose as he spends, spends, spends.

To date, the President shows no signs of cutting his own personal spending while in office. Since he has bragged about using loopholes to his advantage, why should anyone expect the president to curtail his own extravagance when someone else will pay the tab?

A month into office Trump has run up a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term.

The Washington Post reports that adding to the costs and complications is Trump’s inclination to conduct official business surrounded by crowds of people, such as his decision last weekend to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a working dinner while Mar-a-Lago members dined nearby.
Here are the likely costs for the government as reported by the Post:

* Three Mar-a-Lago trips – $10 million

* Guarding Trump Tower in New York – $500,000 a day

* Eric Trump's trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay – $100,000

The problem with the Uruguay charge is that, for all intents and purposes, it was a business expense, one of what will likely be many instances of the federal government paying to effectively subsidize the Trump Organization. The expense came out of the federal government’s budget, de facto subsidized by the American taxpayer.

(Jeremy Venook. “Why the Trumps' Travel Expenses Matter. The Atlantic. February 07, 2017.)

The Post claims ...

For Trump, the costs come with an additional perk: Some of the money flows into his own pocket. While Trump has removed himself from managing his company, he has refused to divest his ownership, meaning that he benefits from corporate successes such as government contracts. 
The Defense Department and Secret Service, for instance, have sought to rent space in Trump Tower, where leasing a floor can cost $1.5 million a year — though neither agency has disclosed any details. In addition, Trump’s travel to his signature properties while trailed by a press corps beaming images to the world allows the official business of the presidency to double as marketing opportunities for his brand.”

The expense is especially troubling as the Secret Service has endured years of budget shortages. Mar-a-Lago presents a logistical nightmare for the service due to its exposed oceanfront and position on a narrow, busy island, where traffic problems were already routine.

President Donald Trump, the master of the deal, appears to be a hypocrite with no intention of curtailing his own interests or expenses while in office. Trump has repeatedly stated his position that the president is not bound by the same ethics rules as lower-ranking government officials. Of course, to what bounds Trump may push unethical behavior is yet to be seen.

This may be true – Trump could still run his businesses as president. However, many see the need for him to “isolate” himself from management of his company to ensure the American people that his actions as president are about the people and not about his businesses. For the American public, this is a real concern with the egotistical Trump.

In actuality, Trump has not divested himself from his businesses, but he has put Trump Inc. into a trust managed by his sons, Erik Trump and Donald Trump Jr. In truth, what Trump says and does are often vastly different things. So, in the real world, who denies that President Trump will continue to deal himself a winning hand – winning at the expense of the public? You and I will see.


No comments: