Congressman to Obamas: Air Force One not your ‘personal toy’

A vocal critic of President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama’s travel habits wants the couple to stop using Air Force One and other
taxpayer-funded aircraft as their “personal toys.”

“A very expensive personal toy, I might add,” Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., said in a House floor speech Thursday, according to The Hill.

obamaairforceoneCoble said Air Force One alone costs $179,000 an hour in flight time, and cited the ancillary costs of presidential travel, such as backup planes, ground transportation, entourage costs and huge security teams to ask that presidential travel be curtailed.

According to Coble’s office, he made the comments during a House floor segment designated for “special orders,” when members are free to make speeches on a topic of their choosing.

Still, he was warned by Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., who was presiding over the House, not to make improper references to the president, according to The Hill.

“I will admit … that Air Force One belongs to President Obama and his wife, but Air Force One also belongs to you and me, and to every taxpayer in America,” Coble said. “I simply ask the president and his wife to exercise more prudence and discipline regarding their aircraft activities.

“When the wheels of Air Force One are up, the meter is on, and I’m talking about a heap of taxpayer dollars.”

Coble has raised the issue of travel by the president and the first lady before, noting in a House floor speech in February that the Obamas seem to use the equipment at their disposal “very casually.”

“The plague of the soaring debt continues to bother us,” Coble concluded on Thursday. “And I respectfully request that President Obama and his wife direct more attention to our soaring debt and deficit and less time on Air Force One.”

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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