No money for White House tours? Give us a break

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: March 20 2013 | 8:20 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 12:58 pm in

By Sioux City Journal

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Sixth-graders from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa, have turned to Facebook in an effort to save a planned tour of the White House.

The children were scheduled for a tour on March 16 as part of a school trip to Washington, D.C., but the tour was cancelled due to “staffing reductions resulting from the sequestration.” In response, students posted a video on Facebook in which they make a plea for the White House visit.

According to the White House Visitors Office, all tours are cancelled until further notice. The last tours were conducted on March 8.

Call us cynical, but this decision strikes us as nothing but a P.R. ploy by President Obama to focus all of the blame for the sequester on Congress. After all, if you want to schedule a tour of the White House, you have to call your congressional representative, right? Let them take the heat.

“They can tour the country on the taxpayer’s dime but can’t allow taxpayers to tour the White House? Seriously?” John Hart, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said to the Washington Post.

Good point. Doesn’t the White House belong to all of us?

Consider this: It costs more than $180,000 per hour to fly Air Force One. When Obama flew to Las Vegas (a nine-hour round trip) to make a speech on immigration in late January, for example, the bill was more than $1.6 million. When he flew to Florida last month to play golf with Tiger Woods, the total cost of the trip was close to $1 million.

“The president’s travel expenses alone for the golfing outing with Tiger Woods would pay for a year of White House visits,” observed conservative newspaper columnist Charles Krauthammer.

We don’t begrudge the president trips for speeches or even vacation, but if we’re in a time of budget cuts when we all must sacrifice and prioritize ... well, it just seems to us like a little less time on Air Force One would pay for a lot of White House tours, and still save money.

Despite the sequester, you can still tour the U.S. Capitol, by the way.

No money for tours of the White House? C’mon, give us a break.

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