By: Megan Grossi
If you’ve been paying attention recently, you may have heard the outrage over Trump’s spending – particularly for trips to Mar-a-Lago on weekends and for protection over Melania and Barron while they remain in New York. And if you are one of many who can’t believe that this is real, you are in good company! Really, if he wanted to cut costs from anything, he could have done so from him travel budget and not from the EPA, the CPB, the Department of Education, the Office of Violence against Women, or the National Endowment for the Arts. But instead of getting mad at Trump for turning Florida into the new D.C., let’s think about what his spending actually means.
First of all, let’s see what we’re working with. The number being tossed around is $3 million per trip to Mar-a-Lago. That number comes from the cost of maintenance to Air Force One, salaries to the people running the plane and to Secret Service who have to accompany the president on his trips, and amenities on the plane. Each hour in the air costs $206,337. To put that in perspective, the online magazine Fortune compares that cost of flight to the average, round-trip, commercial airline ticket, which checks in at $361. At that average price, just about 575 commercial tickets could be paid for with what one hour costs Air Force One. Considering it is a two-our flight to get from Washington D.C. to Florida that brings the bill up to $412,674 just to get down there (the necessary round-trip ticket then brings us up to $825,348. Chipping that off of our $3 million estimate, where does the other $2,174,652 go then?
Philip Bump of The Washington Post tells us in his article “How Much is Donald Trump’s Travel and Protection Costing, Anyway?” that it goes to Secret Service and other costs of maintenance, as we mentioned earlier. The 89th Airlift Wing, a supporting aircraft that follows Air Force One, costs $1.3 million. Amenities of each Air Force craft runs at $380 million each. On top of that, Fortune tells us that a United States Secret Service member earns an annual salary of $96,838.29, and that pilots earn an annual salary of $102,520. That means that each weekend Trump heads down to Mar-a-Lago, every Secret Service member is paid about $1,862.27, and each pilot about $1,971.54. It is unclear how many men Trump travels with, but if we are generous and say that two pilots and 25 agents accompany him, that is still a total of $50,499.83 in wages for just one week.
Bump also tells us that “if Melania and Barron never move to Washington and if Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago for four out of every nine weekends, our estimates put the total cost at something like $526 million over the course of Trump’s presidency.” New York City estimates the cost per day of the Trumps (not including any visits that the president may make to see them) to be $200,000. If she and the youngest Trump never move to Washington, by the next election cycle protecting the First Family from this distance will cost $292,000,000. However, there has been speculation of Melania joining her husband at the end of the school year so she doesn’t have to take Barron out of regular classes in the middle of the school year. In addition to that, Trump has been redefining Mar-a-Lago as strictly his “winter White House.” If that is the case, then costs will definitely drop, but to about $130,000 annually. Or, as Bump calls it, “only enough to fund the homelessness agency until 10-year-old Barron Trump is 42.”
Essentially we are working with some hefty numbers just so the president can go on vacation within his first 100 days of office and the First Lady can stay in New York. But for the most part these numbers are so unrealistic to us that we need to put them into every-day perspective: The cost of one round-trip ticket on Air Force One would pay for an average apartment in Boston for approximately 336 residents. If you are a new undergraduate student at Salem State, you’d be looking at the application cost of $40, the one-time matriculation fee of $250, a full year’s worth of classes at $9736, an un-waived health insurance fee of $2511, a Mass PIRG fee of $10, the cheapest housing (in Peabody or Bowditch) at $8160, and the cheapest meal plan (according to your housing) at $3280. Altogether, with no financial aid, you are paying $23,987 out of pocket; this number does not include an online course fee of $35/credit, lab fees that range from $25-$300/course, program fees is you are a Nursing, Biology, Education, or Social Work major, which cost per year $1,000, $500, $250, or $250 respectively, or a $400 full-year parking pass. Multiply that total of $23,987 by four years and you are paying $95,948 out of pocket, not including interest from any loans taken out. An hour on Air Force One could pay for two and a half students paying out of pocket in total to go to Salem State. A day of protecting the First Family in New York could pay for, at an average of $1.16 per meal, 172,414 meals at a soup kitchen. The annual salary of one pilot on Air Force One could pay for the operation of about 14 months’ worth of veteran housing. The annual salary of one Secret Service agent could pay for almost 10 students to attend public school. That roughly $295,000,000 it would cost to pay for Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago and four whole years of protecting the First Family in New York could pay for about 49,166,666 meals on wheels.
These are only a few of the things we could be spending our money on. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t spent their money on frivolous things before, things that we didn’t actually need? Wasting money has happened to the best of us, but just as wasting too much money too fast drains your bank account, wasting more of a whole country’s money drains its citizens, drives up taxes, and cuts funding where it is necessary.