Those who criticize the cost of Obama’s Christmas vacation don’t want you to know that George W. Bush spent at least $20 million taxpayer dollars just on flights to his ranch in Crawford.
The right wing has been outraged at the four million dollar plus price tag for Obama’s family Christmas vacation, and they constantly hold George W. Bush up as an example of how thrifty a president should be when going on vacation.
The problem is that W. wasn’t thrifty. He was the most expensive vacation president in US history. Not only did Bush spend more days on vacation than any other president, but he used Air Force One more often while on vacation than any other president.
During Bush’s two terms, the cost of operating Air Force One ranged from $56,800 to $68,000 an hour. Bush used Air Force One 77 times to go to his ranch in Crawford, TX. Using the low end cost of $56,800, Media Matters calculated that each trip to Crawford cost taxpayers $259,687 each time, and $20 million total for Bush’s ranch flights.
If cost of the flight was the only expense involved to taxpayers Bush’s vacations would still seem rather economical, but there is more, much more. Unlike the Obama’s $4 million Christmas vacation price tag, which includes the cost of everything from transportation to accommodations for the First Family, the White House staff, and the White House press corps, Bush’s numbers only include the cost of flying the president to Crawford. The cost of transporting and accommodating staff, media, friends and family is not included in Bush’s vacation numbers.
In response to growing criticism that the president was on vacation too much, the Bush administration adopted the Rovian tactic of scheduling, “work events,” while the president was in Crawford so that they could claim that President Bush’s vacations were working vacations. During his infamous pre-9/11 August vacation, the AP reported that, “Using the ranch as a base, he will promote White House initiatives in Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver, Albuquerque, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and San Antonio.”
Bush’s “working vacations” cost taxpayers a small fortune in travel costs because President Bush and his staff would make day trips on Air Force One all across the country in order to counter the criticism that he was on vacation too often. For eight years, Bush essentially used Air Force One as his personal vacation taxi service.
What was also not counted in Bush’s Air Force One mileage total were the vacations where Bush flew to Crawford from Camp David such as the following via Media Matters:
In a December 27, 2001, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Sun-Sentinel article (accessed via Nexis), national correspondent Jeff Zeleny reported “[a]fter spending Christmas at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, the president and first lady boarded Air Force One to travel to their ranch near the village of Crawford.”
And on December 26, 2007, The Associated Press reported that Bush took “Air Force One to fly from his Maryland mountaintop retreat to his Texas ranch here to see in the new year.”
FactCheck.org was writing about the anonymous chain emails about Obama’s travel costs and noted in July that the stories about Obama’s travel expenses are, “part of continuing pattern of false and misleading claims about the travels of the president and the first lady,” and that Obama used Air Force One less in his first two years in office than George W. Bush did.
That same pattern of false information about Obama’s travel costs relative to Bush’s is also rampant on right wing blogs, websites, and Fox News. The cost of Obama’s Christmas vacation is a good example of how right wing media can take a small fact like vacation costs or the number of Americans paying taxes in a single year and build an entire misinformation campaign around it.
The total cost of Obama’s Christmas vacation may be $4 million, but George W. Bush spent exponentially more taxpayers dollars, because he used Air Force One for political purposes in an attempt to distract the public from the amount of days that he was spending on vacation. In flights alone just for himself, George W. Bush spent five times more money flying just himself to Texas than Obama is spending on an entire Christmas vacation.
It is likely that the Bush administration spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on vacations, but the false outrage machine is on overdrive due to one Obama Christmas vacation.
By not including the cost of everything, the Obama bashers distorted the numbers to make it appear that Obama was lavishly spending taxpayer dollars on vacations, but a look inside the numbers reveals that nobody knows how to waste taxpayer dollars quite like the GOP.
Merry Christmas, Republicans. Here’s to another false Obama smear debunked.