Biden Spends $1 Million Annually for Weekend Trips
Monday, 04 Jun 2012 05:04 PM
By Ronald Kessler
Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C. — Last June, President Obama appointed Vice President Joe Biden to root out wasteful government spending. But behind the scenes, it’s a different matter.
Every Friday, Biden takes a helicopter designated as Marine Two from the vice president’s residence to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and then hops on Air Force Two to fly back to his home in Delaware. At the end of the weekend, he returns on Air Force Two, usually a Boeing C-32.
During warm weather, Biden regularly returns to Andrews on the airplane on Saturdays to play golf at the Air Force base with President Obama. After the golf game, he flies back to Delaware and returns to Washington on the plane on Sunday evening — all at taxpayer expense.
The cost of flying Air Force Two is $22,000 an hour, so each half-hour trip to or from Delaware costs about $10,000. Each golf game costs taxpayers $20,000. At that rate, the annual cost to taxpayers of Biden’s weekend trips is well over $1 million.
In addition, the Secret Service rents more than 20 condominiums in the Wilmington, Del. area for agents who must accompany Biden when he returns to his home state.
Biden’s press office had no immediate comment.
“Biden leaves every Friday from Joint Base Andrews, so he gets lifts from the observatory via Marine Two to Andrews Air Force Base, takes off via Air Force Two, lands in Delaware, and stays the weekend and then comes back on Sunday nights,” says a Secret Service agent familiar with the trips.
“Every three or four weeks when it’s warm, he gets up there on Saturday and then will fly back on Air Force Two,” the agent says. “While Air Force Two is sitting on the tarmac at Andrews, he goes and plays golf with the president at Andrews Air Force Base, gets back on the plane, and flies back to Delaware. Let me tell you something, that is egregious.”
Besides that, “The Secret Service rents condos in Wilmington because his schedule is so fluid and never concrete enough to properly prepare for his visits to Delaware,” the agent says. “So they keep a fully staffed Secret Service advance team in Delaware in condominiums that we lease so that when he does these things back and forth to D.C., they’re up there ready for him to arrive.”
The Boeing C-32 that usually flies as Air Force Two is a specially configured Boeing 757-200 commercial jet which typically requires a crew of 18.
As a U.S. senator, Biden was proud of the fact that he commuted daily by train from his home in Delaware to Washington during the week. Amtrak named the newly renovated Wilmington station the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Railroad Station. But after taking office as vice president, a Secret Service agent says Biden began the pattern of commuting on Air Force Two on weekends, costing taxpayers close to $4 million so far.
As recently as May 12, Biden flew back to Andrews to play golf with Obama and with Biden’s second son Hunter and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson. They played 18 holes of golf for four and a half hours.
Biden also plays golf at a country club he belongs to in the Wilmington area. The Secret Service agent says that since Air Force Two parks at Andrews, Obama is obviously aware that Biden is running up a huge government tab for each game of golf he plays with him.
Asked if President Obama thinks these costs are appropriate, why he has not questioned Biden flying to play golf with him at a cost of $20,000 per game, and in view of these costs of $1 million a year for weekend trips, whether the vice president should no longer be in charge of cutting government waste, the president’s press office had no immediate comment.
In addition to his salary as vice president of $230,700, Biden has free use of the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory. The vice president’s residence is a handsome 9,150-square-foot, three-story mansion overlooking Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington.
Complete with pool, pool house, and indoor gym, the white brick house was built in 1893 as the home of the superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory. Congress turned it into the official residence of the vice president in 1974 and gave it the address One Observatory Circle.
During the day, at least five Navy stewards attend to every personal need of the second family, including cleaning, cooking, shopping for food, and doing the laundry.
Biden has portrayed himself as a regular Joe, a product of a working class family who takes on millionaires and Republicans who are said to be out of touch with middle-class Americans.
Last June 13, Obama placed Biden in charge of a Campaign to Cut Waste, which will “hunt down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government,” according to the White House website.
In an email, Biden told supporters that he was the “new sheriff in town.” He said that “particularly at a time when we’re facing tough decisions about reducing our deficit, it’s a no-brainer to stop spending taxpayer dollars on things that benefit nobody.”