Mike Klein Online

Air Force One Goes Campaigning in Ohio, And You Paid For It

Barack Obama loves to spend your tax dollars flying around the country to talk about hope and change.  His presidency is the most media savvy in history.  There is no end to how much media and how many images White House strategists can generate of Obama being Obama.

When spending restraint should be foremost, last Friday provided another example of Obama spending  tax dollars to create media images about hope and change. The president flew from Washington to Columbus, Ohio.  It’s not a big trip, about 400 miles which you can fly in less than an hour at presidential flight speed.

The president spent one hour in Columbus before the return flight to Washington where Obama attended a Chicago White Sox baseball game against the Nationals.  Okay, even presidents deserve a baseball game.

Obama’s junket to Ohio was just a short part of the presidential day, but it likely cost you and every other taxpayer $100,000 to $150,000 just to fly Air Force One.  Multiply that by the seemingly endless hours Obama spends airborne and you have millions of dollars flying away.

We know something about Air Force One flight expense because several years ago California Democrat Henry Waxman accused President George W. Bush of using the presidential plane for trips that Waxman decided were political junkets.

So using all the authority vested in his congressional cloth, Waxman ordered a report about what it costs to keep Air Force One aloft.  The cost came back at a shade above $56,000 per hour in 2006 dollars.  Other published sources say real cost now is closer to $70,000.

None of those dollars include secondary expense for advance teams, site security details, medical support personnel, bullet proof limousines that fly by cargo plane in advance of the president, the Secret Service and other requirements of presidential travel outside Washington.

So what was the big deal about a one-hour trip to Ohio?

Someone inside the Obama strategy circle decided a Columbus road improvement project would be designated as the 10,000th project of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The event was touted as part of the 2010 White House stimulus strategy dubbed “Summer of Recovery.”  Stimulus is the federal government’s great uncapped deep money well that spews out billions of dollars a day.  This Columbus asphalt event was deemed such a big deal the President of the United States needed to be there.

The more plausible explanation for Obama’s travel to Ohio is politics, not asphalt.  Ohio is critical for a president who is short on recent electoral success.  Democratic Governor Ted Strickland is seeking re-election against challenger John Kasich, a popular former Republican congressman and 2000 candidate for President.

There is also an open U.S.Senate seat at play with the retirement of Republican Sen. George Voinovich.  The Republican candidates include a former U.S. Budget Director and on the Democratic side, Ohio’s secretary of state and lieutenant governor are both candidates.

Elections have not been good to Barack Obama this year.  Gubernatorial defeats in New Jersey and Virginia along with the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy and the likelihood that November voters will sweep away incumbents in large numbers all serve to alarm Democrats.

Some erosion of their Washington power is inevitable after November.  Obama’s continued political success, including his 2012 re-election campaign, will require that the White House maintain strong control of state capitol offices and the electorate in vote heavy, pro-labor union Midwestern states like Ohio.

Nobody at the White House would admit as much, but that is why Air Force One traveled to Columbus last week.

You know the truth, the president knows, even Henry Waxman knows.

Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, http://www.gppf.org

June 22, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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