As a private citizen, Donald Trump criticized President Obama for spending too much taxpayer money on travel costs. As president, however, Trump has been racking up travel expenses far more quickly than his predecessor. According to an analysis by The Independent, Trump's travels have cost taxpayers as much in 10 weeks as Obama did in two whole years. At this rate, Trump will spend around as much in travel expenses in one year as Obama did during his entire term.
When Trump spends a weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, taxpayers pay around $3 million to cover the cost, according to estimates by POLITICO. Since becoming president, Trump has spent no less than seven weekends at Mar-a-Lago, for a total of $24 million in expenses. Obama's travel costs, meanwhile, averaged at just over $12 million per year.
Trump's relatively pricey travel costs matter, in part, because he has condemned Obama for spending too much money on traveling. In 2013, when Obama went to Las Vegas to give a speech on immigration, Trump tweeted that the trip "cost the taxpayer $520 per word," citing an article at the conservative news blog Gateway Pundit. This amounted to "More money borrowed from China," Trump explained. In another tweet, he claimed that Obama had spent more money on travel expenses than any other president. "Historic change!," he exclaimed.
Historic Change! Obama has spent over $44M of our money on travel expenses, the most for any president http://t.co/cOu4hHarD4— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 7, 2014
The estimates of how much it costs Trump to fly out to Mar-a-Lago should be taken with a grain of salt, because they're just that: estimates. The Government Accountability Office, at the request of several Democratic senators, is currently examining the cost of Trump's Mar-a-Lago jaunts, but it hasn't released any of its findings yet. POLITICO arrived at its $3 million estimate by looking at the cost of the most analogous of Obama's trips, as reported by the GAO in 2016. Trump's Mar-a-Lago travel costs could easily be more or less than the $24 million that The Independent reported.
However, that number only reflects the estimated cost of Trump flying to his Florida hotel — not any of the other travels he's taken as president. There are no estimates for how much those other trips cost, but since they weren't free, they would certainly add to the total.
There are two takeaways here. The first is that criticizing presidents for spending too much money on travel costs is a cheap shot, given that the presidency, by definition, requires frequent travels. The second is that Trump is a hypocrite.