Here’s How Much Trump’s Thanksgiving Trip Costs American Taxpayers
President Trump landed in Florida on Tuesday evening for yet another trip to his "Winter White House." He's already spent a total of 25 days at Mar-a-Lago this year, and another 39 days at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, with each trip costing taxpayer money and putting a strain on the Secret Service. For reference, Trump's Thanksgiving Mar-a-Lago trip could cost over $1.25 million.
The president will be in Florida for five days, arriving Tuesday evening and leaving on Sunday. The biggest chunk of change is spent just getting there — flying Air Force One costs $180,000 per hour per a 2012 Congressional Research Service Report (a figure that's likely increased in the last five years, but this is the most recent estimate). The flight from D.C. to Palm Beach International Airport is two and a half hours, putting the five-hour trip down to Florida and back at $900,000.
And that's just the flight. The president's visits also require the local police force to provide assistance to the Secret Service and be on high alert, which costs an extra $70,000 per day, according to Newsweek. Five days of the extra law enforcement funds equals $350,000.
The sum of what Trump's five-day Thanksgiving trip will cost in terms of transportation and local law enforcement efforts comes to $1.25 million. But, there's still one more variable to consider.
The Secret Service hasn't made public exactly how much it spends every time the president travels to his Florida resort, but the trips require Secret Service agents to work around the clock, racking up overtime. In fact, the Trump family's frequent travel plans have put such a strain on the agency that it's having trouble paying its employees.
There's a cap on how much Secret Service agents can make in overtime each year, and more than 1,000 agents had already reached that cap in August, meaning they won't be paid for extra time they log. Last year, Congress passed a bill temporarily raising the limit and ensuring agents were paid for the extra work required of them during the 2016 election. The same would need to happen this year for agents to be paid in full, though it's unclear if Congress will act again.
The Secret Service is also understaffed, which contributes to more agents working overtime, but accompanying the president and his family outside of D.C. inevitably exacerbates the problem. While an exact figure isn't known, the extra security required while Trump stays in Florida could certainly raise the cost of this week's trip above $1.25 million.
A similar trip President Obama took in 2013 cost $3.6 million total, including government personnel who accompanied him. However, Obama flew to Chicago and then Florida on that trip, so it may be reasonable to estimate Trump's Florida trip will cost roughly $3 million overall.
The unescapable irony is that Trump criticized Obama for taking vacations on taxpayers' dime, tweeting in 2011: "The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion [sic] +++." And just a few days later, he added, "President @BarackObama's vacation is costing taxpayers millions of dollars — Unbelievable!"
Despite his previous criticisms of Obama, though, Trump has taken far more vacations than Obama ever did. He's spent 99 days at a Trump property since taking office in January, while Obama took 328 vacation days in eight years, which comes out to 41 days per year. The one upside is that Trump usually stay at his own properties, so he's at least not costing taxpayers additional money for hotel rooms for him, his family, and secret service agents. Still, the bill is adding up.