Do the Taxpayers Pay for Donald Trump’s Golf Vacations?
Donald Trump has a reputation for taking frequent golf vacations and for using the tax payer's money to pay for them. While it is true that President Trump does take numerous golfing trips, whether or not taxpayers pay for these trips is a more complicated issue with no clear answer.
This article will investigate the costs associated with President Trump's golf trips and explore what, if any, portion of these are optionally being paid by taxpayers. The discussion will conclude by offering an opinion on how responsible these expenditures are from a taxpayer perspective.
How Much Does Trump Spend on Golf?
Golf is an important part of President Donald Trump’s life. He owns a number of golf courses around the world and is a frequent visitor, often making multiple trips in one month. But how much do these golf vacations cost taxpayers?
The White House does not release detailed information on the costs associated with presidential travel, so it’s difficult to know exactly how much taxpayer money goes towards Trump’s golf trips. But at least some of the costs are covered by U.S. taxpayers – for example, it’s reported that his frequent trips to Florida have cost up to $3 million so far this year alone!
The Secret Service also incurs significant costs for safeguarding the President when he travels, including air travel and hotel expenses for agents who accompany him on his trips. It's impossible to know exactly how much these additional costs are without White House disclosure, but estimates put them in the tens of millions of dollars per year – most of which is paid by American taxpayers.
There has also been some criticism that Trump uses taxpayer money to protect himself while playing golf and staying at his own resorts – where he may be able to profit off his visits through sales of rooms or memberships at his clubs.
Ultimately, it remains unclear how much taxpayer money goes towards Trump’s frequent golf trips – since he visits several different courses on a regular basis, plus different cities around the world owned by businesses with which he has financial ties – but given that U.S. taxpayers are paying for some travel expenses in addition to Secret Service protection it is likely significant amount each month.
Who Pays for Trump’s Golf Trips?
With President Trump's frequent golf excursions, many people are wondering who pays for the travel costs and security expenses associated with them. These trips may be taken at the taxpayers’ expense, depending on the circumstance; however, there has been some controversy surrounding President Trump’s golf vacations. Let’s take a closer look at the issue.
President Donald Trump has had a long history of making frequent trips to his own golf resorts around the United States and, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, taxpayers are footing the bill. The report estimates that Trump's trips to his golf resorts since taking office have cost taxpayers nearly $140 million.
The report details that “President Donald J. Trump’s visits to properties he or his family owns or leases… have resulted in taxpayer-funded costs for planned travel, resulting Secret Service and other operational expenses.” These costs include transportation to and from various sites, including golf courses, hotel stays for staffers and Secret Service protection costs for all those accompanying the President.
As of August 2020, the estimated total cost of these visits is $139.6 million according to The Washington Post analysis of data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). That figure does not cover extra costs associated with incidental visit expenses like cleanup or added staffing at local businesses near Trump’s properties during visits as calculated by The Washington Post separately this summer. It also excludes roughly $1 million dollars in reimbursements made by other entities related to security personnel support during these trips according to documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests filed by several news outlets including ProPublica and NBC News.
The Trump Organization owns several golf courses around the world, which President Donald Trump frequents for pleasure and business. Questions have been raised about whether taxpayers are responsible for the costs of his golf trips, and if so, to what extent.
When Trump visits a course owned by his business, it is argued that his trips in themselves do not cost taxpayers at all. However, when he goes to courses owned by other businesses or properties leased to foreign governments, then the cost of security provided by the Secret Service is often borne by the taxpayer.
For example, taxpayers paid more than $982,000 during Trump’s first 13 visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida during his first 80 days in office. There are also logistical costs associated with presidential travel such as air travel and personnel expenses that are paid by taxpayers as well.
In addition to paying for security measures for president’s travel, many Trump hotels and resorts also benefit from increased visibility because of their close proximity to places he frequently visits such as Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster in New Jersey where he has held several weekends of golfing activities. By suggesting these locations may provide a more valuable experience than traditional guest rooms through their frequent mentions on social media or through statements he has made – even touting Mar-a-Lago as “the winter White House” – he incentivizes people to stay there thereby benefiting his businesses instead of those owned by outside companies.
When Donald Trump was running for office, his supporters often spoke of his commitment to cutting wasteful government spending. Many have since questioned whether Trump’s frequent golf trips—the president has spent more than 150 days on the links since he was elected—are, in fact, in line with those promises.
It is estimated that each of these outings costs taxpayers about $3 million. Nearly all of these funds cover things like Secret Service protection, air travel costs and accommodation fees for the president and his entourage. One exception is Trump’s trips to one of his own courses; here, he pays fees out of pocket so as not to be accused of using taxpayer money for profit.
Trump's campaign also covers several expenses related to the golf trips—including hundreds of dollars worth of greens fees and pro shop purchases at his namesake courses—which are not charged directly to taxpayers. According to an analysis by Quartz media outlet in 2018, Trump’s three 2016 presidential campaigns (primary, general election and transition) spent a total of $562,306 on items ranging from greens fees to customized Caddyshack-emblazoned pillows used as gifts to tournament winners at various golf resorts owned by the President.
In addition, during the 2020 election cycle alone Trump’s official campaign has already spent more than half a million dollars on golf-related expenses (including flags bearing the campaign logo). These costs do not include any contributions made by political action committees (PACs) supporting the president or other special interest groups associated with him or his re-election efforts.
How Much Does Trump Spend on Other Travel?
When it comes to Donald Trump’s travel costs, there is no clear answer because the White House does not release the exact spending figures. However, it is known that Donald Trump has spent more than $115 million on travel for himself and his staff since becoming President of the United States in 2017 – an amount which includes several trips to his luxury golf courses.
These expenses cover a variety of things associated with Presidential travel, such as travel by Air Force One and other military aircrafts, accommodation for staff members accompanying the President, security costs related to presidential visits and transportation of Presidential motorcades.
While some of these expenses are paid for with tax payer money or reimbursed through donors to Trump's campaign fund, it is estimated that taxpayers have spent between $73-$83 million covering President Trump's trips to his golf clubs alone – including stays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and frequent visits to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. In addition to this expense on actual golfing vacations, it is also believed that much of the remaining money is used to cover additional costs associated with these trips such as meals and entertainment at the resorts visited by Donald Trump.
How Trump’s Travel Costs Compare to Other Presidents
President Donald Trump has come under fire for his use of taxpayer dollars in order to pay for his golf-related travel, with public records showing that he has spent more than any other president in history on such trips.
Trump has made more than 200 trips to golf clubs since taking office, according to the most recent analysis by The Washington Post. This is more than three times the amount made by Barack Obama and nearly six times the amount made by George W. Bush during their presidencies. In total, Trump's travel has cost taxpayers an estimated $140 million. That’s enough to cover the salary of almost 1,000 TSA screeners working at airports nationwide.
The costs associated with Trump’s golf trips have caused some public officials and watchdog groups to call for reforms in how presidential travel is funded and regulated. However, such concerns have yet to lead to any meaningful changes in policy or legislation. Until then, taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for President Trump’s golf vacations – a fact which many find objectionable.
After reviewing the facts, it seems unlikely that Donald Trump's golf vacations are completely funded by taxpayers. While taxpayers do cover a portion of his travels and security expenses, he has indicated that he covers a significant portion of personal costs associated with his visits. Additionally, many Trump properties frequently offer discounts to the military or other government related attendants on his trips.
Ultimately, it is hard to draw a definitive conclusion but any taxpayer funding associated with his golf trips appears negligible in comparison with the wealth of evidence pointing to direct payment from him and other attending guests.