The Big Think

July 31, 2012

Election Math

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:00 am

This is not meant to be a partisan post (I make enough of those already). It applies equally to both parties. I’m just curious about something.

Today the President is going to a Manhattan fundraiser that will be attended by 60 people who each pay $40,000 per plate (man, that’s gotta be some great chicken!). To accomplish this fundraiser, President Obama will fly in Air Force 1, with an AF1 backup, military escorts, a full motorcade (with its own air transport), local security, Secret Service, local preparation, traffic shutdown (with the accompanying negative economic impact), as well as all the other expenses associated with the difficult process of transporting a president from place to place. Those costs will be, as far as I know, at taxpayer expense. In return, the president’s campaign will receive $240,000 in donations.

So I’m wondering what the net income after expenses is? Is this a case of spending $500,000 in taxpayer money to gain $250,000 in campaign donations for one party? Even if the trip is done on the cheap and only costs $100,000 or so (a number I have a hard time believing is much lower), doesn’t it seem wasteful?

Again, I’m not trying to say that the Pres. is doing anything that other president’s haven’t done. I’ve just always thought that there’s something wrong with traveling around at taxpayer expense in order to raise money for one candidate’s campaign.

I’m honestly open to input here and can’t figure this out. If the campaigns pay for travel expenses (which means, ultimately, that the attendees of these shindigs are paying for it indirectly), then I see no problem here. If presidents come up with flimsy “official” reasons to attend a specific location and just happen to have a fundraiser there at the same time, that just seems transparently lame. If they’re charging taxpayers and pocketing the cash they make, that seems rather unethical and something the government might have a problem with if it were done in private industry.

1 Comment »

  1. I agree it seems shady on the surface. But on the other hand, part of being the president is that you can’t go anywhere without this type of entourage, or else he might be killed, abducted, etc. It would be equally expensive for the president to take a weekend vacation with his family, which isn’t something unreasonable (most office-workers get two weeks of paid vacation a year, so shouldn’t the president get a break too?) It just so happens that this time when he’s traveling, it’s for his own political benefit. I don’t think it would be fair to tell the president that he must pay for all non-official travel out of pocket. I think this is just something we have to live with since there are too many people in the world who would take any opportunity to harm the president (any president, not just this one). Kind of stinks, but I don’t see a better alternative.

    On the other hand, giving the incumbent a big disadvantage (not just this one, any president) doesn’t sound so bad since the incumbent generally has an advantage to start with. I dunno.

    Comment by greg — July 31, 2012 @ 10:23 am

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