By John Krull
INDIANAPOLIS – Apparently, it is hard and costly work being a champion of the little guy.
USA Today reports that the Secret Service already has blown through most of the entire salary, overtime and expense budget it had allocated for protecting the president of the United States and his family. The agency will need more money – a lot more money – just to get through the remaining four-plus months of 2017.
John Krull, publisher, TheStatehouseFile.com
Part of the problem is the size of Donald Trump’s family. There are 42 Trump family members under Secret Service protection, up from 31 members of former President Barack Obama’s family.
But much of it also is attributable to the president’s lifestyle.
Trump, who campaigned for office criticizing the amount of vacation time Obama took and promoted himself as a warrior for the forgotten working class, doesn’t exactly entertain himself and others with beer and pretzels. Every one of the president’s weekend jaunts to Mar-a-Lago costs about $3 million – or 60 times the median household income for an Indiana family.
When presidential son Eric Trump took a personal business trip to Uruguay, the Secret Service had to pay nearly $100,000 in hotel rooms alone to provide security for the heir. Trump children’s vacations in Aspen, Germany and Hungary carried similar price tags.
Then there’s the whole saga of the Secret Service coverage for the presidential family in Manhattan. Because First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron opted to live in New York until June, the agents started out renting space in the building that bears the president’s name. But there was a dispute over rent and leasing terms – the president seems to struggle to grasp the notion that public service requires, well, service – so the agents ended up in a trailer down on the street.
Nor is the president’s highly developed sense of entitlement while in defense of the downtrodden an isolated incident.
Politico somehow gained possession of a detailed eight-page memo that lays out, painstakingly, just how U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, likes to be chauffeured around.
Rokita, whose campaign slogan in his race for the U.S. Senate is “Defeat the Elite,” apparently must not be tasked with securing his own coffee, providing his own tooth brush or even remembering basic personal grooming or hygiene responsibilities on his own. Any Rokita driver must turn the car around in the driveway so it’s facing the street, less this bounding warrior for the proletariat would have to walk a few extra steps to enter the vehicle. The car also must be warmed or cooled for at least 10 minutes before the congressman enters it so that he is not subject to the tyranny of the seasons like the rest of us.
The driver also is not supposed to speak to Rokita unless spoken to.
Doubtless, the final editing of this memo was done by one of the congressman’s staffers but I’m reasonably certain the person who did the original draft was Marie Antoinette – she of “let them eat cake” fame.
The hypocrisy of two pampered pols presenting themselves as working-class heroes might be mildly amusing at another time.
But there are a lot of families across America, but especially here in Indiana, who are hurting and put their faith in hucksters such as these.
The president and the congressman who wants to ride the Trump wave to the Senate like to boast about employment numbers, which are robust. What they don’t like to talk about is a disturbing trend – that, even as the unemployment numbers have dropped, the poverty rates have held steady or even have increased. Even though people are working and working hard, all too often they’re not making enough to support themselves and their families.
And their self-appointed champions – men who have vowed to “Make America Great Again” and “Defeat the Elite” – are focused instead on $3 million golf weekends and making sure that their chauffeurs don’t forget their place.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, host of “No Limits” WFYI 90.1 Indianapolis and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.