House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued this morning that Obama should reimburse taxpayers for his recent trip to college campuses in North Carolina and Ohio to push for a student loan rate freeze.
“This week the president traveled across the country on the taxpayers’ dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour, insisting that Congress fix a problem that we were already working on,” Boehner said in his weekly news conference. “[H]is campaign ought to be reimbursing the Treasury for the cost of this trip.”
Boehner’s comments are part of a Republican strategy to highlight Obama’s swing state travel.
The Republican National Committee filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office about the president’s trips.
Obama has been travelling more as the election nears, and many of his official speeches are in battleground states. (When political events are included on official trips, the cost is divided between the government and the campaign.)
Obama is following in the footsteps of past presidents facing reelection by using the incumbent advantage of Air Force One.
“Let’s be real. Every presidential election year— you go back eight years ago — there is always raised the same hue and cry, the president shouldn’t be campaigning as president,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Obama has outpaced George W. Bush in the scale of his swing state travel. But even that appears to be common — George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were both accused of breaking records in the scale of their political trips. When Republicans did it, they were defended by the RNC.
“This week’s travel has been part of the President’s official responsibility to get outside of Washington, DC, hear from students, and discuss stopping interest rates on their loans from doubling in July – an effort, that with Congress now taking action, looks to have been effective,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “When there is political travel, we follow all rules and regulations that all other Administrations of both parties have followed.”
As in past years, the attacks aren’t likely to be hugely effective — but hey, it’s a tradition.