Under normal circumstances, Americans would assume a Republican president would usher in an era of fiscal responsibility. Of budget slashing. Of belt tightening and more efficient government programs. But these are not normal circumstances, and Donald Trump is not a typical Republican president. Although changes are coming and some people are going to benefit, taxpayer money has been flowing rather freely on Capitol Hill since the election.
A report from The Washington Post outlines that the taxpayers are fronting a lot of money to pay for the Trumps and their “elaborate” lifestyles. Trump and his family have a complicated web of business interests, investments, and properties. And life in and around the Oval Office is quite different from what they’re used to.
The resulting “logistical nightmare,” as the Post calls it, comes at the expense of the taxpayers. That means you, the American people, are paying for Trump’s trips to Florida. And you’re paying for the security of Trump Tower in New York in addition to many other things. You might not like it, but there’s little you can do about it — at this point, at least, with Republicans in Congress unlikely to tell Trump to cool it on the expenditures.
Just how is Trump and the rest of his family burning through your tax dollars? Here are 10 ways that we know of — so far.
1. Securing Trump Tower
One of the most obvious and expensive ways in which taxpayers are getting nailed concerns Trump Tower in Manhattan. The first lady and Trump’s son Barron were living there, and that required round-the-clock security and Secret Service protection. That amounted to roughly $500,000 per day in expenses — all paid for by the American people. The people of New York City were also fronting the bill for an extra 200 police officers.
2. Weekends at Mar-a-Lago
You might have heard that Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, has the unofficial moniker of “White House South.” Trump likes it and has been spending his weekends there at the beginning of his presidency. But it’s not cheap. With just three visits, he burned through more than $10 million in taxpayer money.
Trump likes to golf. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a great way to get some exercise and escape the pressures of the office. Former President Barack Obama liked to golf, too, as did George W. Bush. Obama was also criticized for it — and quite often. Now Trump has been golfing on the taxpayers’ dime, even if it’s with foreign dignitaries. It’s important to give our leaders a break, but if you’re going to criticize one president for hitting the links, you’ve got to get them all.
4. Attacking businesses
The Trumps have had several public spats with big companies, and it’s not only troublesome in terms of ethics violations. Trump, while drawing a salary from the taxpayers (along with others, such as Kellyanne Conway), has gone after Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s clothing line, as well as many media companies. So far, there’s a list of more than 60 companies Trump has targeted on Twitter, all as the American people pay him as president.
5. Re-election events
The president likes to get out among his fans. He’s already held a big rally in Florida. And with the 2020 race set to heat up sooner than we all would like, Trump will get to be back on the campaign trail in full force. He was able to bill his own businesses more than $8 million during 2016. Given that he’s the sitting president this go-around, taxpayers will be fronting some of that money for security and transportation.
6. Promoting the Trump brand abroad
One particularly maddening way in which the Trumps seem to be profiting off of the presidency is by paying for members of the family to fly around the world to promote the Trump brand. Case in point: Eric Trump recently took a trip to Uruguay to look over the family’s business interests. That single trip, which, by law, required Secret Service protection, cost taxpayers almost $100,000.
7. Trump’s D.C. hotel
The Trumps recently opened a fancy new hotel in Washington, D.C., a location they lease from the government. This has been tagged as a big conflict of interest, with a report from a Republican senator’s office showing Trump was granted $40 million in tax credits. It doesn’t look like anyone’s going to press for changes on this front.
We brought up re-election expenses, but most of that stuff is down the road. That hasn’t stopped Trump from holding a big rally in Florida, only a few weeks into his tenure. That rally, and any future rally, comes with a hefty price tag. And like it or not, you’re fronting the money to put them on — or at least for elements within them. Security, transportation, and other costs add up quickly.
9. Questionable appointments
“Questionable appointments” aren’t really an expense. But the American people expect competent, qualified people to fill Cabinet and senior staff positions. So far, Trump has given those jobs to some questionable people — all of whom are paid by the taxpayers. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, is one example, with many wondering about his qualifications. The same goes for Betsy DeVos, Ben Carson, Scott Pruitt, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, Rex Tillerson, and more.
10. Renting office space (from the Trumps)
The Pentagon might need to lease space in Trump Tower for when the president spends time in New York. We’ve already discussed expenses related to keeping Trump Tower as “White House North.” But leasing space cost as much as $1.5 million per year — money paid to the Trumps.