Economy

Tom Price Resigns Over Private Jet Scandal—But Trump’s Golf Trips Cost Taxpayers Far More

Tom Price resigned over $1 million in travel costs, but Trump’s golf trips cost taxpayers at least $180 million.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Donald Duffs

Tom Price, President Donald Trump's Secretary of Health and Human Services, was forced to resign on Friday after an investigation by Politico revealed that he had spent more than $1 million in taxpayer funds for travel expenses since May.

"I will tell you personally, I'm not happy about it. I am not happy about it. I'm going to look at it. I let him know it," Trump said when he was asked about the controversy.

While Trump is purportedly upset about Price's expensive travel plans, he has expressed no concern about the great cost that his own trips to his golf resorts have cost taxpayers.

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Since logistical information about presidential travel is not usually released to the public, there is no official record of how much Trump's many visits to his Mar-a-Lago and other clubs. According to a government report about a 2013 golf trip by former President Barack Obama, the cost of each commander-in-chief golfing expedition is about $3.6 million. The current administration has received a formal request to divulge details on expenditures of each of Trump's trips but thus far, it does not appear to have been answered.

Back when he was a private citizen, Trump and many Republicans repeatedly criticized then-president Barack Obama for wasting public money on his golfing habit.

In 2014, he attacked Obama for making the government pay for a fundraising trip during which the president also hit the links: "We pay for Obama's travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf."

The habitual vacationer, @BarackObama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2011

Despite his criticism of Obama, however, Trump has been a more avid golfer since he took office, hitting the links at least 36 times as of this week compared to the 21 times that Obama had by this time in his term.

According to the website Trump Golf Count, the president has traveled to his courses at least 60 times since his inauguration . Assuming each trip costs $3 million each, this means that U.S. taxpayers have spent $180 million indulging Trump's desire to visit his golf properties. The $1 million spent by Price pales in comparison.

The cost of the president's frequent traveling to his golf courses has become so enormous that it is literally making the Secret Service go broke trying to pay agents to protect him, USA Today reported in August. The protective service is also having trouble retaining agents due to the large amounts of overtime they are forced to work because of the trips.

By what standard are Tom Price's trips unacceptably expensive while Donald Trump's are perfectly permissible?

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Matthew Sheffield writes about politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.