At the 2013 Conservative Political Action Convention (CPAC), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) claimed that President Obama lived an excessive lifestyle as President. Raw meat for the conservatives crammed into the hall to hear her, but Bachmann is well-known for tossing these sort of scraps to her drooling, spital-flecked mob.
The Washington Post saw fit to debunk her claim. They gave her a claim a Four Pinnochios rating which they consider a “whopper.” Apparently, Bachmann didn’t invent this lie all on her own. Bachmann was citing a self-published book by a Republican lobbyist.
In this case, Bachmann appears to be citing the self-published book “Presidential Perks Gone Royal,” by Republican lobbyist Robert Keith Gray, though one wonders whether she actually read the book — which is only 131 pages — or just read a summary that appeared in the Daily Caller, since many of her points are highlighted in the Daily Caller article.
This is common behavior for Bachmann. She hears something or reads something from what she believes to be a creditable source … Fox News, Daily Caller, Ron Paul, islamophobe Frank Gaffney, etc … and repeats it.
There has only been one occasion when Bachmann appears to have made up a lie. This was when she claimed to have super-secret knowledge of a plan to divide up Iraq. It was so secret that everybody denied all knowledge of the plan.
Back to the debunking:
Bachmann’s headline figure is that Obama’s presidency costs $1.4 billion a year. Gray never quite explains how he developed that figure, though another self-published book, “The 1.4 Billion Dollar Man: Costs of the Obama White House,” by self-help writer John F. Groom, attempts to provide a breakdown. But what is quickly apparent is that this number covers every possible expense, including many having to do with the security that is necessary to protect the president. The figures also include the cost of the White House policy-making staffs. Are those really all “perks and excess?”
Groom’s figures include a number of somewhat fishy guesstimates (“unreimbursed campaign expenses”), but as it happens, a much more credible scholar — former White House aide Bradley H. Patterson Jr. — attempted to figure out the tab for the White House for a book, “To Serve the President,” published in 2010 by the Brookings Institution.
Patterson estimated that the cost of running the White House for fiscal year 2008 — when George W. Bush was president — was nearly $1.6 billion. About half — more than $800 million — related to the Secret Service budget. An additional $271 million was spent on the president’s helicopter squadron.
If Bush is a $1.6 billion man, does that make Obama a relative bargain at $1.4 billion?