How Much Is Too Much?

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Aug 05, 2010 12:06 PM
Lynn Sweet reports on the First Lady's vacation schedule:

New York in March; Chicago, over Memorial Day; Los Angeles in June; Camp David -- sort of an extension of the White House -- in July; Maine in July, to highlight Acadia National Park, and now Spain. Mrs. Obama is glamorizing Spain's coastal resorts before her Aug. 14 first family weekend visit to Florida's Gulf Coast . . .. Starting Aug. 19, the Obamas will spend 10 days in Martha's Vineyard.

In Spain, where the First Lady is staying at a five-star resort reportedly favored by reality TV stars and gangsters, taxpayers are picking up the tab for most of the plane's expenses, along with security and staff.  In other words, despite Robert Gibbs' characterization of the trip as a "private" one, it's being subsidized by all of us.

Everyone (who can afford one) should certainly be able to enjoy a vacation.  But  how many are too many?

For someone who has worked hard to seem attuned to the American people, this trip strikes me as an instance of real political tone-deafness.  President Obama famously said that "at a certain point, you've made enough money" -- and when he did, he was lecturing people who had earned their money in the private sector, and who were, presumably, wanting to spend their own money themselves.  (No doubt he was right about one thing, though: At some point you have earned enough money, when you can simply subsidize your lifestyle by sticking taxpayers with the bills.) 

But when the First Couple holds those openly redistributionist kinds of views, it would seem incumbent on them to live by the mantra they're preaching to others.  And so it is incongruous -- to say the least -- for the First Lady to jet overseas to an expensive resort with an entourage, relying heavily on the public fisc to do so, especially as the country struggles with record budget deficits and a sick economy. 

Increasingly, it seems that the Obamas are just one more example of people who are ready, willing and able to call on the private sector -- that is, those who have earned their money through their own hard work and productivity -- to "sacrifice" so that those in government can spend their money to live like pashas. 

Obviously, after he gets out of office, President Obama can and will cash in.  Government service, these days, pays well both in office and afterwards.  And then, the Obamas can jet all over the world, for all I care.  At least then, it's their own money they're spending -- not yours and mine -- and where they go is their own business (just as Chelsea Clinton's wedding was the Clintons' own business).

Right now, however, the jet-setting around has an unfortunate air of entitlement to it, and an unseemly eagerness to live high on the hog -- on the taxpayer dime.