Republicans take aim at cost of Obama’s trip to India

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Range Rover, Nov 5, 2010.


    Republicans take aim at cost of Obama’s trip to India

    By Holly Bailey
    2 hrs 26 mins ago

    Is President Obama's trip to India really going to cost $200 million a day?

    That's the number making the rounds among the president's conservative critics, including potential 2012 Obama challenger Mike Huckabee and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), as the president takes off Friday for a 10-day trip to Asia.

    Huckabee made the claim to Fox News on Tuesday night (citing "reports") and in the social media sphere. "Reports say that Obama's trip to Mumbai, India tomorrow will cost taxpayers $200 million dollars a day - come to think of it, that's much less than Obama's been spending here," Huckabee wrote in a Facebook message Tuesday night (misstating the day of Obama's departure). "So maybe it's not a bad thing he's leaving."

    On Wednesday, Bachmann repeated the claim on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "Within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day," Bachmann told Cooper. "He's taking 2,000 people with him. He'll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It's a very small example, Anderson."

    The only problem: The claims appear to be wrong.
    The numbers evidently originate with the Press Trust of India, whose report was linked on the Drudge Report and picked up by Fox News host Glenn Beck. The news agency also wrongly said that the White House had blocked off the entire Taj Mahal Palace hotel for Obama's visit and that the U.S. was stationing 34 warships—roughly 10 percent of the naval fleet--off the coast of Mumbai for security reasons.

    The agency attributed the $200 million figure to an anonymous Indian government official. It didn't attribute the warships claim to any source.

    Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell called the warship claim "absolutely absurd." "That's just comical," he said at Thursday's Pentagon news briefing. "Nothing close to that is being done."
    The White House, meanwhile, issued a blanket statement that the $200 million figure "had no basis in reality" and was "wildly inflated." The press office declined to disclose the trip's actual cost, citing "security concerns."

    In a news briefing Thursday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also refused to release numbers, but he told reporters point-blank, "We are not spending $200 million a day."

    The nonpartisan took up the issue, too, saying that even though the administration won't release a price tag, there is "simply no evidence to support" a claim of $200 million a day. One reason to doubt the report, according to the group: The entire war in Afghanistan costs $190 million a day.

    That is not to say that some of the precautions for Obama's first presidential visit to India aren't possibly a tad over the top. As the BBC reports, Indian officials have been removing coconuts from any trees that Obama might walk under, to prevent anything from falling on the presidential head. And as London's Daily Telegraph notes, the country has deployed trained monkey catchers to prevent any "simian invasion" (a measure that Indian officials also took when President Bush visited in 2006).