"Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" — the TV show from the 1980s and 1990s that wallowed in the obscene excesses of the super wealthy — needs to be brought back to do an extended series on America's new First Family. There would be an ironic twist in the theme this time around: The Trump family's lavish living is being heavily subsidized by taxpayers who struggle to pay their bills every month.
Donald Trump has made plenty of deals in which he got richer while other people got hoodwinked (think Trump Foundation) or swindled (think Trump University), but getting himself elected president is the sweetest deal of them all.
After criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for his occasional games of golf, and despite his campaign declaration that "I would rarely leave the White House because there's so much work to be done," Trump has spent nearly every weekend of his presidency on a golf course. Most of those outings were not on some fancy fairway near Washington; they were in Palm Beach, Fla., at his swanky Mar-a-Lago resort.
The cost of getting the part-time president and his entourage to the Sunshine State for his frequent getaways is not cheap. Each trip costs taxpayers more than $3 million, according to estimates.
Meanwhile, Melania Trump is shunning the government housing that has been good enough for first ladies since Abigail Adams. Melania and her son, Baron, spend most of their time in New York. According to the Washington Post, the Secret Service has asked for an extra $27 million to cover the cost of protecting Melania in her golden bower atop Trump Tower.
The Secret Service has also requested an additional $30 million to cover other ballooning travel costs. The agency not only has to pay the added expense of the president's weekend golfing expeditions in Florida and the first lady's preference for life in the Big Apple, but they must accompany Trump's sons and daughters on their far-flung business trips and ski vacations.
At the current rate of spending, the Post estimates that travel and protection costs will surpass half-a-billion dollars by the end of Trump's four-year term, vastly more than has been spent for any other president.
Citizens in New York and Palm Beach are paying additional costs for having the Trumps in their towns so often. All that police protection does not come free. All the interrupted business has an economic impact. Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (who Trump demeaned as "Little Marco" during the GOP primaries) has complained that the president's visits are a burden on the local economy that needs to be addressed. That means more federal dollars spent to ease the impact of Trump's trips to the links.
The plutocrat who sold himself as a populist could save plenty of tax dollars if he stayed home more often, but Trump and his wife do not seem to like slumming in the White House. Apparently, they require much more ostentatious elegance. And if the taxpayers are on the hook paying for their rich tastes, so what? The chumps asked for it.
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