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Obamas Arrives in Africa
UNDATED -- President Obama and the first family are now in Africa for one of the most expensive trips they've taken.
The African journey begins in Senegal, then they'll be heading to South Africa and the final stop will be Tanzania.
The seven-day trip is expected to cost between $60 million and $100 million of taxpayer money. Both President George W. Bush and President
Bill Clinton visited several African nations, and the costs are estimated to be on par with this one.
On this trip, President Obama is hoping to increase U.S. investment opportunities in Africa.
President Obama's Vacation Expenses
UNDATED -- President Barack Obama's upcoming trip to Africa is being billed as one of the most expensive trips of Obama's tenure. This trip is expected to cost somewhere between $60 million and $100 million of taxpayer money, and that hefty price tag is drawing hefty criticism.
For the first family, it's not just a vacation, but a necessary diplomatic trip ... but at a cost of up to $100 million, many are now questioning the timing.
"For the cost of this trip to Africa you could have 1,350 weeks of White House tours, which the White House has canceled indefinitely due to budget restraints," North Carolina Rep. George Holding said.
Budget restraints, known as the sequester which furloughed government workers, closed essential offices on certain days, even grounding the Navy's Blue Angels flight performance team.
Administration officials say the trip is essential with Africa being a significant region both economically and to major security issues.
"From a foreign policy perspective, some people believe this trip is long overdue and frankly it will be a great bang for our buck being in Africa," White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said.
As far as what those bucks cover? A Navy aircraft carrier with a fully staffed medical trauma center, 56 support vehicles, 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with bulletproof glass, according to The Washington Post.
Both President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton made trips to several African nations and the costs are estimated to be on par with Obama's upcoming trip.
For many people, the question is not whether the president needs the highest level of security, but whether the trip itself is worth it to taxpayers, who fund the trip but rarely get a cost-benefit analysis.
"To the extent that national security is not involved, all of that information should be public," states Tom Schatz, President of the Citizens Against Government Waste, a taxpayer watchdog group. He says the bigger issue is that the public is rarely informed on the purpose of trips like this. "There should be a report about the objectives, cost and benefits. What is the president attempting to achieve? Did he achieve it and was it worth the cost?"
For now, questions like that are only asked when someone from the inside leaks the information to the media.
Obama is currently in Berlin. He is scheduled to arrive in Africa on June 26.
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