Taxpayer's Tab: 3 Days, $6.8 Million: Obama's India Trip

Winners of our SOTU Price Tag contest & a BillTally update
Vol. 6 Issue 4, January 29, 2015

President’s India Trip: $6.8 Million Flight Cost

Last weekend, the President was in New Delhi, India as the guest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for that country’s Republic Day festivities. The trip marked the second time Obama has traveled to India while in office, and made him the first U.S. President to attend the Republic Day celebrations (an invitation to which is considered one of the highest honors the Indian government can extend to foreign dignitaries). From there, he met the First Lady – along with a delegation of other lawmakers and officials – in Saudi Arabia to pay respects to recently deceased King Abdullah before heading back to Washington.

The trip spanned a total of three days, 16,000 miles, and roughly 30 hours of flight time – which, based on the reported $228,288 cost per flight hour to operate Air Force One, puts the tab for the President’s plane somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.8 million. That doesn’t include the costs for the rest of his security detail, ground transport, and other accommodations. For example, it has been reported that the entire 440-room Maurya Sheraton Hotel was booked for the U.S. entourage at a cost of $1.2 million. In addition, the heavy-duty presidential limousine, nicknamed ‘The Beast’ for its size, is transported abroad on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, which costs about $23,811 per hour to fly.

NTU Foundation has been tracking Presidents’ foreign travels for several years now, and our research was featured in several publications (including Newsmax and The Washington Times). After updating our records to account for this most recent trip, we found that President Obama has now made 38 trips to 85 countries (including repeat visits) and has spent 150 days abroad.
How does that compare to other Presidents’ travels? Check out our most recent travel update to find out.
The Bottom Line: President Obama has now taken 38 overseas trips while in office. The estimated cost to fly Air Force One on his recent three-day trip to India and Saudi Arabia totals about $6.8 million.

SOTU Price Tag Winners

As President Obama was delivering this year’s State of the Union (SOTU) Address, NTU Foundation researchers were analyzing each proposal’s impact on the federal budget and your tax dollars. Our conclusion: If the ten quantifiable measures in the speech were enacted, Americans would witness a $41 billion annual increase in federal spending. Analysts could not determine any possible savings from the remaining five items.

Immediately, the definitive total was picked up by the media including, American Spectator, Washington Examiner, Fox News, and CRNTalk’s Chuck Wilder.
In the lead up to the speech, we invited taxpayers to play our SOTU Price Tag game. Citizens were asked how much they thought SOTU would increase or decrease spending for a chance to win prizes including a profile article, posted on our blog, and books from our coveted library.
We are pleased to announce that Chad R. of Washington, D.C., Douglas A. of Louisville, KY, Tara R. of Ellenboro, NC, Scott P. of Sahuarita, AZ, and Michi I. of Washington, D.C. guessed closest to the $41 billion SOTU price tag. Congrats to the winners!

New and Old Legislation in the 114th Congress

The new Congress is off and running and NTUF's researchers are busy reading up on all the new legislation. As of today, Members have drafted and introduced over 600 bills in the House and nearly 300 in the Senate. Under NTUF's BillTally program, we attempt to calculate how each proposed bill would impact federal spending. An arduous task, yet an important one.
President Obama noted in his recent State of the Union Address that the federal deficits are down. This is true, the $1.4 trillion deficit incurred after the spending spree of 2009 has fallen, yet there will still be $470 billion added to the federal government’s $18 trillion total debt level this Fiscal Year. Worse news is on the way. Just this week, the Congressional Budget Office warned that the debt level is projected to reach $27.3 trillion by 2025.
As we noted in our analysis of the new proposals in the SOTU, there was nothing in the President’s agenda that would address the long-term budgetary imbalances. And, as we’ve repeatedly stated in our BillTally reports, there are also far too many Representatives and Senators who propose imbalanced agendas: lots of net new spending on top of current budget levels – which, if enacted, would require higher taxes or increased debt.
Our mission is to provide taxpayers with accurate and non-biased information with which to hold their elected officials accountable. And our BillTally project is an invaluable and unique tool to empower citizens. It provides reliable information that shows what each Member of Congress proposes to do with our tax dollars.
Chamber# of Decrease Bills# of Increase BillsRatio of Increases to Cuts
To date, we have identified a total of 13 bills that would reduce spending and 64 to increase spending. For each of the cut bills introduced, there are five to raise spending. Check out a complete listing of our preliminary scores.
Rep. David Jolly (R-FL)The largest spending increase and cut bills introduced so far include:
  • H.R. 143, the Patient Freedom Act of 2014. Introduced by Rep. David Jolly (R-FL)*. The bill would cut federal outlays by $151.4 billion over five years, an average of $30.28 billion annually.
  • Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ)H.R. 198, the MOVE Freight Act. Introduced by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ). The bill would establish national freight infrastructure grants that, based on related legislation in previous Congresses, could cost $7.4 billion.
  • S. 53, the Child Tax Credit Integrity Preservation Act of 2015. Introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA). The bill would cut federal outlays by $15.6 billion over five years, an average of $3.1 billion annually.
  • Senator David Vitter (R-LA)S. 99, the Notch Fairness Act of 2015. Introduced by Senator David Vitter (R-LA). The bill would increase Social Security benefits for recipients born from 1917 through 1926. In 2013, the Senior Citizens League estimated this would cost $16.5 billion over four years, or $4.1 billion annually. Featured previously in the Tab in 2011.
The complete list of all the bills with cost estimates can be viewed and shared online. The estimates are for the texts of the bills as they were originally introduced and may be revised as newer budgetary information becomes available.
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)There are a few additional savings bills we are aware of that we have not scored yet. For example, Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) has introduced a trio of bills, H.R. 39, H.R. 49, and H.R. 58, to implement across-the-board rescissions in non-defense, non-homeland-security, and non-veterans-affairs discretionary spending of 1 percent, 2 percent, and 5 percent, respectively. We will score these bills next week with the latest information once the new FY 2016 budget becomes available. (Related legislation was also introduced in the 113th Congress and covered previously in the Tab.)
Ditto for H.R. 25 and S. 155, the Fair Tax Act, which would repeal the income tax, establish a national sales tax, and eliminate the Internal Revenue Service (we produced an estimate for the version introduced in the 113th Congress).
We also identified 322 bills from either Chamber that would have either a low, negligible impact on outlays or would result in no net change in spending.

* NTUF does not have a BillTally member report for Rep. Jolly because he did not serve for the entirety of the 113th Congress.
The Bottom Line: The earliest results show that bills to increase spending are outpacing savings bills. A complete list of bills with estimates is available from NTUF and will be updated regularly.

National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to helping Americans of all ages understand how taxes, government spending, and regulations affect them. Through our timely information, analysis, and commentary, we’re empowering citizens to engage in important policy debates and hold officials accountable.

Our findings are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation or as a comment on any Member’s or Candidate's fitness to serve. Photo Credit: Daily Caller, Wiki Commons