Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The High Price of Presidency

 I doubt that many people have any idea of what electing the Trump Corporation to the highest office in the land is costing us. I am fairly certain we will never know down to the last dollar.
 This week, the mayor of West Palm Beach and one of our Congresswomen went to the island where the media are penned up while President Trump is in town. They went to plead, conspicuously, for money. They were asking for millions of dollars --$5.8 million, plus $4.7 million, plus $4.3 million -- partly on the guess that Mr. Trump’s biweekly visits will continue year-around but also for security equipment the Secret Service told the city of West Palm Beach it needs to buy.
 That money would be on top of the money the county sheriff has to lay out in overtime -- $280,000 for the first five weekend trips of his presidency. The sheriff’s office started bleeding money while Mr. Trump was only a candidate. The sheriff expected to be reimbursed. He now knows better. The Secret Service politely listens to complaints. And politely dismisses them.
   The Government Accountability Office put the price tag for one President Obama visit here at $3 million. Presumably Mr. Trump is into the feds for a similar amount per visit. That’s in federal, not local, money. Hawaii hosted two Obama presidential visits and  is still waiting for $2 million from the same non-existent presidential visit pot our sheriff hoped to tap.
 Although Obama, like presidents before him, did a lot of travelling, he didn't go to the Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach every other weekend. And take foreign heads of state. This week’s added attraction will be Chinese President Xi Jinping.
  And Mar-a-Lago is key to where big added costs may be.
  You, see, unlike the Bush compound in Maine or Ronald Reagan’s California ranch, Mar-a-Lago is not just a home to Mr. Trump. It is also the private Mar-a-Lago Club where, (if you are invited and pay the $200,000  initiation fee) you can spend $14,000 a year in dues to have a room when you want to get away, drink Trump wine and play The Trump International Golf Course. The golf course. We will get to that.
  Mr. Trump might not be able to afford the mansion hinself if his paying guests weren’t paying for it. Which raises the unanswered question: Who pays the Club bills for Mr. Trump’s entourage when he comes? Whoever pays, the money goes to the Trump Corporation, Which is Mr. Trump.
  He has taken to calling the private club “The Winter White House.” I’m betting that eventually will mean a $400,000 initiation fee, instead of $200,000, for the Club. Shouldn’t a White House be pricier than just a private club?
 You may wonder where the town of Palm Beach is in all of these expenses. The rich folks winter there; West Palm Beach, the city, was built for the help. The town authorized a helipad so Mr. Trump can get to and from the airport without causing traffic jams. The authorization was reluctant because now everyone is going to want a helipad. But, in fact, the Mar-a-Lago Club is only a few feet into the town. Most of its traffic and security problems belong to the city where the help resides.
 And this: Mr. Trump does not go to Mar-a-Lago and stay there.  He spends part of the weekend making phone calls and taking meetings at Trump International Golf Course. His comings and goings all require motorcades of big, black SUVs with motorcycle escort for the 4.6 mile trip. (Does he has to make phone calls from the course because he can’t find a phone in any of Mar-a-Lago’s 126 rooms?)
 The SUVs are flown in before he arrives, sometimes on a C-5 Galaxy that has a cargo bay 80 yards long, sometimes on a slightly smaller jet. The cars are picked up and flown to the next place he is going after he leaves. There is other communications and security equipment aboard, as well, but I didn’t want anyone to think the President of the United States gets his motorcades from Hertz.
 Now it is possible that Mr. Trump will go to other of his properties for a Spring White House, a Summer
White House and an Autumn White House. No sense upgrading only one of his properties while his leading the free world. And it would be good – for his West Palm Beach neighbors --  if he spreads the expenses of his visits around a bit.  We have a president for our neighbor, and he's going to cost us even more than he will cost everybody else.


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  2. Yes, his presidency is a continuing nightmare. I hope he's impeached as soon as possible - he's already done so much damage.

  3. As in the course of his pre-POTUS business enterprises, he spends other people's money. And he doesn't even have to declare bankruptcy now to avoid any idea of payback or reimbursement. And then there are the kids and what THEIR boondoggles are costing the US taxpayers. But, hey, it's OTHER people's money ... again. They have hit the giant jackpot that Trump casinos were never able to payoff for them.

  4. The Trump presidency operates much like kings did when they were not constitutional monarchs. The Trump royal family has the ultimate power, but they have their intrigues with each other. There is a royal court where people constantly compete for access and power. It is replacing the bureaucracy. Trump needs only loyalty not competence. And they are going about the country and the world at their various homes, with the people subsidizing their display. And they are giving our money and resources away to keep sufficient loyalty to stay in power.

  5. Tom, you Floridians are so lucky! About as lucky as New Yorkers are to have Trump Tower in their midst. I wonder if Melania and Barron are ever going to live in the White House. I understand why they don't want to change schools if Barron is happy there. But it is a burden on Secret Service to provide security, not to mention causing problems for the neighbors.

  6. Those folks in West Palm Beach will have to get in line behind NYC Mayor De Blasio who has been promised gazillions to reimburse police over-time--and Trump hasn't even been in New York since the inauguration.

    And oh yes, the Washington Post had a local story about the Ivanka-Jared screw up of parking on their block...because no one travels with fewer than four Secret Service armored tanks taking up those parking places. The neighbors have complained!

    Ideal 2020 presidential candidate is an orphan, never married, friendless and an introvert. Will never leave the White House and is a sober vegetarian.

  7. I can only assume that the White House is an abject dump without enough gilding and frou frou that none of the Trumps wants to live there.

    OTOH, Melania Trump has a right to live where she and her son want to. And if they want to live far away from the president, I certainly understand. The fact that she lives in a high-density population area and messes up traffic flow and inconveniences Tiffany shoppers, ... well, she and Barron are still entitled to protection.

    And the president is breaking no laws in traveling to Mar-a-Lago every 10 minutes to play gold and think up crazy Tweets.

    What I want to know is whether the taxpayers are paying the Trump properties $$ to put up the Secret Service officers and the rest of the entourage every time he goes to one of the Trump properties that Eric and Donald Jr. supposedly now own.

    If so, every time I go home to sleep in my own bed, I'm going to start charging my employer the cost of a hotel room and travel expenses.

    1. Jean, the fact that he was making money by using his venues while he campaigned was one of he underlooked features of his campaign. Many of his stops were in buildings he owned --= starting with the famous escalator ride to his candidacy announcement. He was able then tomget back the money he put into his campaign -- that is, to rack up a profit on a wash deal. Or he was taking money someone else gave him to support the campaign, run it through his property and end up with it in his pocket. He could be doing the same thing now, using "his mansion" at the Mar-a-Lago Club. If we knew he is paying taxes on his profits..., oh hush my mouth.

    2. I know I am overly cynical about people, but it was always my view that Trump's bid to be president was largely a way to get free advertising for his brand and properties during the campaign. I think the guy is very good at getting his foot in the door and inveigling money out of people. Delivering anything of value? Steaks? Wine? University classes? Coherent foreign policy? Improvements in health care? It remains to be seen.

      Richard Luger and Lee Hamilton had some thoughts about this stuff on the radio today. I sometimes worry that sanity will die with these older guys:

  8. What will happen if Trump castles here and around the world are attacked? Probably will depend upon the details. Who are the attackers(?) the victims? the general situation? the results?

    It could generate sympathy for him (beyond from his followers). Americans rally around the flag, but will many rally around Trump, or his kingdom? Probably in some cases yes, in others not much.

    Will radicals (and people inspired by radicals) shift their targets from the general public to Trump targets? Could they become sympathetic Robin Hood like figures by portraying themselves as against Americans or more narrowly against our elites?

    What happens if people around the world become less afraid of general attacks in public places, e.g. airports? Maybe they will just avoid Trump castles, or places where Americans are gathered.

    Depending upon how it played out it could divide Americans from the rest of the world, or American elites from the rest of the world (and the rest of Americans).