Time to sequester Air Force One vacation and campaign fundraising flights

by 1389 on May 3, 2014

in 1389 (blog admin), Barack Hussein Obama, government spending, travel

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Published on Apr 5, 2013 by AFPCalifornia
Air Force One costs taxpayers $179,750 per hour. It’s time to sequester President Obama’s use of Air Force One and limit it to official business rather than vacations and sight seeing tours.

If Obama and his family insist on a vacation, let us remind them that we taxpayers are already on the hook for Camp David. If they want to go somewhere for campaign fundraising, then yes, they can pay for their own commercial flights or private jet charters, just as everyone else must do. If it means that the First Family and their Secret Service entourage and their handlers and hangers-on must cope with airport delays and with being groped by the TSA, then so be it.

For official business, considerable downsizing is in order. These two 747s are much too expensive to maintain even when not in use. Ordinary military transport planes with the addition of some electronic communications should suffice. Moreover, taxpayers should not subsidize the press riding along with the president on an aircraft. Access to such exclusive travel amounts to a bribe to the reporters to get more favorable coverage.

Obama’s travel style results in inconvenience and economic losses for non-Americans as well:

An inconvenient truth

MY FOUR CENTAVOS By Dean Andy Bautista (The Philippine Star)

The truth is that when a very important guest (which happens to be the leader of the most powerful country in the planet) comes to town, the visit will cause a lot of inconvenience. Before Air Force One (and its twin decoy) arrived, our air space was cleared (“no fly zone”) for one hour of outgoing and incoming plane traffic. This led to more than 100 international and domestic flights being delayed with our two major carriers, Philippine Air Lines and Cebu Pacific, reporting 49 and 37 delayed flights, respectively. I presume that a similar number of flights were impacted by the departure of Air Force One’s entourage the following day.

Police and MMDA officials had prepared three potential convoy routes from NAIA to Malacañang Palace. With more than 900 personnel deployed, various road blocks, detours and checkpoints were set up to ensure a smooth traffic flow. Of course, tens of thousands of Metro Manila motorists and commuters were affected by these arrangements. In the end, President Obama was whisked by one of the six heliplanes (there also had to be a decoy of course) from the airport to the palace. When asked to comment whether all the police preparations were for naught, Southern Police Chief Superintendent Jose Erwin Villacorte said that the “efforts were not wasted for as long as the VIP was safe.”

Meanwhile, about 100 media people covered the arrival of Air Force One. Just like boarding for a flight to the US, they were instructed to assemble at NAIA Terminal 3 by 10:30 a.m., or three hours before the scheduled touchdown. The news cocks and hens were subjected to three inspections: first, by NAIA security, second by the Philippine PSG and finally, by the US Security Service. Their bags and gear were sniffed by a canine unit and scanned by the Secret Service. Just like school children, they were told not to “make sudden movements nor wander around the tarmac.”

The following morning, since the US head of state had a final function at the American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio, construction workers in two of the nearby buildings were told to go home for the day. I hope that our daily-paid brethren were given their just wage.

Over a month ago, the Supreme Court had scheduled the oathtaking of the 1,174 barristers who successfully hurdled the 2013 bar exams on April 28 at the PICC. However, since Obama was billeted at nearby Sofitel, the high court was compelled to re-set the ceremony to the following Monday, citing “concerns relating to the security of the US President.” Many of the inductees who trooped in from the provinces with their relatives and guests will need to return to the metropolis on May 5.

One wonders whether all of these arrangements orchestrated (read: imposed) by the US Secret Service are appropriate or merely a case of over-acting (OA)? However, it is quite apparent that other visiting heads of state do not get the same royal, fussed up treatment.

Juxtapose this with the style of the new leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Pope Francis. After insisting on paying his own hotel bill after his papal inauguration, he has since exchanged the opulent 12-plus-room papal apartment at the Apostolic Palace for a small studio at the Casa Santa Maria. Similarly, not only has he continued his bus-taking ways with colleagues when attending activities with the Roman Curia or eating with them in the communal refectory, he has also shunned the fortified Mercedes limousine used by his predecessor in favour of a Ford Focus.
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