Or at least that's how some U.S. conservatives are interpreting my work.
In late 2008, on what must have been a particularly boring day, I decided to research the costs associated with operating the White House. My findings were mildly interesting, so I turned them into an article. The post proved popular, though I quickly discovered that most of the traffic was coming from people searching for the costs of Air Force One. So, to help these wayward internet travellers, I put together a post about the expenses associated with the President's tricked out Boeing 747-200B.
After Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, the traffic coming to my site through these articles took a sharp turn to the right. All of a sudden, my posts were being used by conservative commenters on dozens of sites, as examples of Obama's deficit spending and general mismanagement.
So, why do deficit hawks, budget busters, and Obama haters love these posts so much? Well, without the full context, the numbers look like great examples of wasteful spending. Both the White House and Air Force One cost a lot of money, $1.5 billion and $280 million a year, respectively. To the average American making $47,000 a year, these figures probably look unreasonable. However, it's intellectually dishonest to cite them without context.
First of all, there's more to the White House expenditures than just Obama's living expenses. The White House assumes many of the other costs associated with the Executive Branch, including the NSC, Camp David, the Secret Service, and yes, even Air Force One. Second, most of the commenters using these figures seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that the data comes from Bush's time in office, not Obama's.
The costs associated with the White House today are similar to what they were under Bush, so Obama shouldn't be singled out. In fact, most of the increased costs over the last decade are directly related to the security measures that Bush implemented. So, if you're going to bemoan the price tag of the White House, you should be looking to President 43, and not 44.
Photo by Steve Rhodes.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
By Stephen M.