Apr 17, 2021

Trump's Legacy: Taxpayers As ATM? Trump Spent Millions In Taxpayer Cash On Golf, Trips To Marallago And Fleeced Supporters Of Their Cash With Tricks

Related: Trump's Top 100 Scandals That The Trump Presidential Library Is Going To Have To Explain Away

Trump in 2011: The president 'plays golf to escape work while America goes down the drain' 
Eight years ago on this very day, Trump tweeted, "I play golf to relax. My company is in great shape. Barack Obama plays golf to escape work while America goes down the drain." And you will never guess what he did today. 


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Snopes: Has Trump Spent ‘278.5 Years’ of Salary on Taxpayer-Funded Golf Outings?

The president of the United States is paid $400,000 a year.

The bottom line is that multiple analyses have calculated figures that are in rough agreement with either Germain’s or D├íte’s claims that the cost is presently in the $109 million area, but numbers as precise as those stated in tweets mislead a reader into thinking a level of accuracy not reflective of reality has been achieved. The numbers vary, additionally, based on how one approaches the problem: Do you include all the maintenance costs for Air Force One? Do you include security costs that would be present regardless of golf outings? There is no one right answer, and as such there is no single number that can be verified as the number.
For these reasons, we rank the claim that “Trump spent “278.5 years” of presidential salary on taxpayer-funded golf outings as a “Mixture.”

UPDATE:As of Sep. 21 2020, according to Trump Golf Count, Trump has golfed 279 times during his presidency, costing taxpayers an estimated 141 million dollars. With the same caveats described above, this would amount to 352.5 presidential salaries as of late September 2020.


Media Matters: Trump's Golfing Reveals The Shameless Hypocrisy Of The Right-Wing Media Bunker

“What do most men do when they retire?” Greg Gutfeld asked the other hosts of Fox News’ The Five, three days before President Barack Obama left office in January. “They play golf. But what if you've been playing golf for the last eight years of your job? He should go back and work. He should get a job.”

A week later, when his colleague Eric Bolling claimed that President Donald Trump had already “accomplished possibly more than former President Obama accomplished in many, many years,” Gutfeld had a ready rejoinder: “That's what happens when you don't play golf.”

Right-wing media figures like Gutfeld spent years turning Obama’s golf hobby into a ready-made attack. They cited the president’s golf game as evidence he hadn’t “really been that engaged,” and claimed that false rumors that he was a Muslim circulated because he “is much more diligent at golfing than he is at church attendance.”

They criticized Obama for playing the sport during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while the economy was “doing really poorly,” during a Washington, D.C., earthquake, after a series of tornadoes hit the southeastern United States, following an earthquake in Japan, instead of attending the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, and in lieu of visiting the Gulf Coast to assess the response to the 2010 oil spill (which he had already done). In the eyes of these critics, the president shouldn’t play while “men and women in uniform are still getting killed in Afghanistan.”

Obama’s rounds of golf -- either 306 or 333 over eight years, depending on the count -- became a shorthand way for conservatives to claim that he was lazy, disengaged, and self-indulgent.

Those criticisms never made much sense.

“Presidents have regularly turned to golf as a way to relax from their abnormally stressful job,” as CNN has noted. Given that presidents carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, it seems pointlessly cruel to begrudge them the leisure they need to recuperate. The specific criticism from the right wing -- that Obama was playing golf instead of doing something more important -- also never added up: When one is president, there is literally always something critical happening somewhere in the world. And indeed, polls showed that the American people largely found this line of criticism against Obama unfair.

When Trump because president, conservative pundits suddenly stopped complaining about the “Golfer in Chief.” But 66 days after taking the oath of office, Trump has already taken 14 trips to golf courses.

That’s still a far cry from the 1,200 and 800 rounds that Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower played during their tenures in office. But there are a number of factors that make Trump’s golf habit worthy of note.

First of all, Trump was one of those conservative media figures who regularly lashed out at Obama for golfing. “Trump was adamant that his predecessor, Barack Obama, spent too much time on vacation while president,” The Washington Post’s Philip Bump noted last month. “He tweeted his objections 38 times from 2011 to 2014.”

On the presidential campaign trail, Trump continued to slam Obama in office. During one 2016 event in Virginia, he claimed that if he was elected, “I'm going to be working for you; I'm not going to have time to go play golf.” Obama has “played more rounds just about than people who play professionally on the PGA Tour,” he complained at another rally.

Meanwhile, just over two months into his presidency, Trump is visiting golf courses at a rate that translates to 77 trips per year, much more frequently than his predecessor, who played around 40 rounds per year. (The national average is reportedly 19 rounds. I have never played a round of golf.) And Obama didn’t play a round as president until April 26, 2009, more than three months into his tenure. By that time, he had negotiated through Congress and signed a $787 billion economic recovery bill, an expansion providing health care to 4 million children, and legislation making it easier to sue employers for wage discrimination based on gender. President Trump is still looking for his first legislative victory.

Second, Trump’s golf trips are part of his broader tendency to visit properties that bear his name, which he has done “on 21 of the 66 days he has been in office, meaning that for the equivalent of three full weeks of his just-over-nine weeks as commander in chief, he has spent all or part of a day at a Trump property,” according to the Post. From the White House, Trump has made three trips to Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, VA; in Florida, he has visited Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach 10 times and Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter once.

Meanwhile, the president is calling his Mar-A-Lago resort -- which doubled membership fees following Trump’s inauguration -- the “Southern White House” and making regular weekend trips to his home there. And he’s stopped in at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for two meals as president. All of these businesses benefit from the publicity they received when Trump visits. And their success ultimately benefit Trump and his family financially.

“It is normal for presidents to get out -- and it can be a boost for small businesses across the city and the country,” Robert Weissman, the president of the nonprofit Public Citizen, told The New York Times. “But with President Trump, he spends his down time as a walking advertisement for his businesses. It is a major departure from historic norm and degradation of the office.”

Third, Trump’s White House is actively seeking to hide from the public whether he’s playing golf or not. Aides refuse to confirm to White House correspondents whether the president is playing golf when he visits his golf courses; reporters instead are piecing together what happened from social media posts of those Trump is playing with, concluding that he has played golf at least 12 times.

“The level of secrecy around golf is new for the presidency,” CNN noted. “While the Obama administration was hesitant to allow cameras to regularly get shots of the President hitting the links, they would tell reporters who joined the President for each round. Trump's nascent administration has not done that.”

In fact, press secretary Sean Spicer has tried to convince reporters not to assume that Trump is playing golf when he visits his golf courses. “Just because you go somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean you did it,” he told reporters last week. “So, on a couple of occasions, he’s actually conducted meetings there, he’s actually had phone calls. So, just because he heads there, it doesn’t mean that that’s what’s happening.”

Of course, the White House has places to conduct meetings and make phone calls. What it doesn’t have is a golf course.

Finally, it is difficult to apply to Trump the argument that the president is working really hard and so deserves whatever leisure time he wants. The president is spending several hours a day watching cable news. He was so manifestly ignorant of the details of his top-priority policy agenda item, repealing and replacing Obamacare, that he lacked “sufficient command of the policy details to negotiate” on the legislation with members of Congress. It wouldn’t hurt him to spend more time learning how to do his job, before he gets all of us killed.

Nonetheless, the conservative commentators and Fox News hosts who spent years demonizing Obama’s golfing have gone silent under Trump.

The change has been so dramatic that on one broadcast last month, The Five’s hapless liberal host, Bob Beckel, complained that he “used to listen to Eric and Kimberly talk about how much -- Greg -- how much golf Obama played.” But he noted that Obama hadn’t played a round in his first several months in office while “Trump didn't even wait a week.” “Well, he does have excellent company that he golfs with,” Kimberly Guilfoyle responded. “He was with Rory McIlroy this weekend.”

In fact, Fox is helping Trump’s White House hide his golf habit. Late Sunday afternoon, after Trump visited his Virginia golf club on two consecutive days, the network tweeted:

“The sad thing about this tweet is that it really would be news if Donald Trump was at the White House working this weekend,” Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum commented. “But no: Trump played golf at his club in Virginia this weekend, so it's not clear what Fox was up to here. Perhaps they meant to say that by 5:26 pm on Sunday, Trump was back in the White House.”

Fox could have told its audience the truth about the president’s weekend. But after eight years of priming its fans by attacking Obama for playing golf, the network knows exactly which buttons that would push.


Media Matters: How Trump Embodies The Right-Wing Media’s Caricature Of Obama: Lazy, Secretive, And Corrupt

During Barack Obama’s presidency, perhaps no conservative media outlet lamented as loudly about the frequency of the president's golf games as Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller.

Year after year, a parade of Daily Caller staffers lined up to feed the phony outrage machine by detailing the supposedly mountainous taxpayer costs associated with the excursions. The headlines often stressed that Obama’s golf trips took place against the backdrop of grim news events, suggesting the president was pampered and out of touch:

Milwaukee Burns, Louisiana Floods, Obama Golfs” (August 15)

As Suspected Terror Rages In Berlin, Obama Hits Hawaiian Golf Course” (December 19)

For eight years, the “Obama golfs too much” narrative served as shorthand for the right-wing press to denigrate the president as lazy, not serious, and tone deaf.

And then came President Donald Trump.

His relentless trips to the links and to his Florida resort have quickly turned any previous complaints about Obama into a punchline.

Overall, the taxpayer expenses for Trump’s domestic travels, including his golf trips to Florida, have been staggering: $20 million in less than three months, a clip that would add up to $80 million a year.

As CNN recently reported, Trump's outings are "putting the president on pace in his first year of office to surpass former President Barack Obama's spending on travel for his entire eight years.” 

All of this family travel and the colossal, unprecedented costs paid by taxpayers make the conservative media look completely absurd. Why? The Daily Caller once complained about two Obama golf trips that cost an estimated $1,031,685 and $804,870. Today, that’s in the ballpark of what it costs every time Trump goes to Mar-a-Lago -- and he’s already been seven times this year.

Last month, The Daily Caller at least conceded that Trump had previously criticized Obama for playing golf as president and was now playing ever more himself. But like so many in the conservative media, The Daily Caller refused to acknowledge its own, years-long hypocrisy on the issue. Instead, the Caller is now framing Trump's golf outings as helpful for diplomacy

For conservative media, it’s not just the golfing hypocrisy that’s been driven off the charts this year. Instead, it’s becoming clear that many of the unlikable traits that the far-right press desperately tried to assign to Obama -- he’s lazy, he’s secretive, he’s a bully, he’s corrupt -- are all now being proudly embodied by Trump.

For eight years, right-wing media invented an unflattering image of Obama that never fit the reality. But now it fits Trump perfectly, and the conservative press is too embarrassed to admit it.

Recall that so few of the far right's relentless attacks on Obama were based on policy. Instead, they were personality driven. But confronted by a mainstream, center-left Democrat who eschewed drama and displays of pure partisanship, far-right press critics simply invented a villainous figure with obnoxious traits that would fit their narrative.

Today, Trump perfectly mirrors that figure.

Read More.



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