The House Should Curb Obama's Extravagant Lifestyle

Pundits, political analysts, and politicians on both sides of the aisle have offered their recommendation for items which should be placed at the top of the 112th Congress's legislative agenda. Surprisingly, in light of the negative press the Obamas have received relating to their recent junket to India, so far as I have seen, not one person has suggested including legislation limiting the amount of taxpayer funds that may be expended on presidential trips -- official or otherwise -- and the White House party budget. Like all government agencies, the White House operates on the basis of appropriations that originate in the House of Representatives, and it is incumbent on the House to exercise its responsibilities in guarding the taxpayers' money.

The beauty of our governing system of checks and balances is that presidential overreach can be curtailed by Congress. To borrow the president's own analogy, the voters decided to ditch Obama's drive to take the country on the road to the farthest reaches of the left's progressively ideological hopes and dreams. They instead elected legislators who represent the more reasonable values of mainstream Americans, who reside on the center-right side of the highway. We can therefore expect that over the last two years of what is expected to be Obama's only term in office, Republicans will keep Obama in check, making the passage of any further ideologically driven domestic legislation highly unlikely.

And as Republicans promise to end the earmarks that infuriate so many Americans, the "Young Guns" should add one more notch to their holster. They should draft a bill that prohibits the profligate spending of Obama, who, in addition to misunderstanding the mandate of the American people upon his election in 2008 as well as the "shellacking" of the 2010 midterms, completely misunderstands that he was hired as an executive to run the country, not anointed a king to feed on the fruits of the labor of hardworking taxpayers.

Headlines scream of offensive details regarding Obama's trip to India. Much of the reports is speculative, including the exact number in the entourage (while the White House denies that there are 3,000 individuals on the trip, reports indicate that the security detail alone includes 600 Secret Service and FBI employees) and the number of planes, helicopters, and other armored vehicles brought along to ensure that the president travels in the style to which he is accustomed. Furthermore, it appears as if coconuts have been removed from trees, outposts have been erected to watch for aggressive monkeys, and a bomb-proof tunnel was built to enable the Obamas to safely visit the Gandhi Museum.

Apparently, the news that the entourage would be accompanied by 34 warships was a rumor, while the story that the president took over the entire Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was not. And while the White House denies that the trip will cost American taxpayers $200 million a day, officials have refused to reveal the total cost, claiming such information is confidential. The point really is not the exact figure. The point is that the citizens (and the world) not only believe the obscene $2-billion estimate, but they have also come to expect this from the Obamas.  

Americans have come to expect Michelle to wear $500 sneakers and carry $2,000 purses while dining on lobster and caviar prepared by her personal chef and traveling to five-star hotels on the Spanish coast. They are used to her wastefulness -- and her hypocrisy, considering the lavishness that occurs while the Obamas ask Americans to make sacrifices for the good of the nation, vacation on oil-stained beaches off the Gulf of Mexico, and have patience while the president socializes the economy against the will of the people.

It is time for Congress to intervene and put the kibosh on the spending of a president who has no idea, or who does not care, that his behavior is highly inappropriate. He parties continuously at the White House, entertaining his Hollywood supporters with music, dance, fine food, and wine. One would have expected that the 2010 midterms would have provided a much-needed reality check and led to the end of the glitz and glamor. Apparently not, and it is therefore time for the parents to cut off the apron strings, tear up the credit cards, and budget the children who seemingly were never taught the value of a hard-earned dollar.

Americans do not begrudge their chief executive for taking vacations or entertaining heads of state who visit the White House. But they do resent a president who lacks the humility to recognize the state of the U.S. economy, lacks the empathy to feel for the country's unemployed, and reeks of self-entitlement. The Obamas continually miss the message the American people raised during the controversy over the building of the Ground Zero Mosque -- just because something is legal, that does not make it ethical. From Charlie Rangel to Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi to Barney Frank, the Washington establishment's cluelessness is astonishing. But the cleanup must start at the top. 

So it is time for the Republicans who took control of the House and weakened the Democrats' hold in the Senate to put an end to this nonsense. In Obama's post-election speech, he mentioned that he was humbled by the results. But the president has proven that he lacks the humility that a man of his stature should have, that he is incapable of learning from his mistakes, and that he views taxpayer funds as an endless bank account from which he can draw at his leisure. He has further demonstrated that he lacks the sense of decency, common sense, and good judgment required for responsible decision-making. This was obvious from previous overseas trips in which Obama's modus operandi involved bowing to foreign leaders, reaching out to America's enemies, and apologizing for America's greatness. This trip is simply more of the same. 

Not long after entering office, Obama stated, "I won." At the time, he was directing that admonition to Republican legislators whose ideas were anathema to him. But the king of double-speak may also have been referring to winning the jackpot. It is easy to imagine the Obamas toasting champagne their first night in the White House, smiling at their newfound fortune. Like winning the lottery, they assumed they won a future filled with unrestricted spending and limitless income at their personal disposal. It is time for the Republicans to cut down Obama's out-of-control spending not only in terms ending the enactment of wasteful stimulus packages and socialist entitlement programs, but also in terms of the Obama family's extravagant lifestyle, which far surpasses that of any sane person's wildest dreams.

Lauri B. Regan is a lawyer at a global law firm in New York City and a regular contributor to