Presidential travel issues in the news

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It's always big news when the president travels, but the subject has drawn more than it's share of attention this week.

President-elect Trump, Time Magazine's Man of the Year, found time to tweet about the price of a couple of new Air Force Ones.

"Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump" tweeted

"Boeing is building a brand-new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!"

Trump will actually use the current 25-year-old presidential planes, which he calls a "step down" from his private fleet. For future presidents, the Air Force has nearly $3 billion budgeted for research and development for two new 747 Presidential jumbo jets through 2021, and possibly another $800 million to actually purchase the planes.

But money might not really be the issue with the president elect.

His remarks, which caused Boeing stock to drop a couple of dollars a share, followed a speech by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg who was critical of Trump's stance on free trade.

"Last year, we delivered 495 737s from our factory in Renton, Wash., to customers around the world," Muilenberg said, noting that a third of the planes were sent to China. "This phenomenon would have been unimaginable when I started at the company in 1985."

Trump's unprecedented contacts with Taiwan's president could threaten those sales and many more.

Money is an issue with the Judicial Watch conservative watchdog group, which received an accounting of the Obama family's 2015 Hawaiian vacation after winning a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

The vacation, the first family's eighth to Hawaii, cost taxpayers at least $4.8 million, for a total of at least $85 million.

Expenses for last year's vacation included about $1 million for Secret Service housing, $166,000 for car rentals, $68,000 for air and rail expenses, $246,000 for rental of homes and $732,000 for hotel rooms.

The family stayed at the Hale Reena Estate, which rents for up to $10,000 a night, and dined at five of the island's finest restaurants when the president wasn't playing his seven rounds of golf, snorkeling or hiking.

No one would begrudge the leader of the Free World a nice vacation, but perhaps taxpayers will get a break as Donald Trump, who says he'll refuse his presidential salary and is a native New Yorker, vacations a little closer to home.

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