President Obama: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Leisure and luxury over hard work -- it's been a problem for this president ever since he first took office. President Obama spends a lot of time golfing; he even famously went golfing with Tiger Woods in Florida, while his family took a ski vacation (thus doubling the financial costs to taxpayers of their vacation). On the opposite side of the coin, the president, who presides over record levels of government dependency and debt, seems very cavalier about actually attending to the economy ... other than giving the occasional high-sounding speech that by now hardly anyone believes.

In a detailed report, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Institute (GAI) estimated that the president has spent over twice as many hours on vacation and golf (976 hours) as he has in economic meetings of any kind (474.4 hours).  And those calculations were figured in ways that gave a very distinct advantage to the president. There is general agreement that GAI seriously underestimated the president's leisure time and overestimated his time working on the economy. For instance, GAI used very broad interpretations of what constitutes "economic meetings" by including any cabinet meeting or time spent with businessmen.  Likewise, the president was given "benefit of the doubt" regarding the time he spent vacationing and golfing.  For instance, the president once said on record that playing golf takes six hours, but the GAI only counted four hours for each golf round.

But even when given credit for many more hours of economic meetings and counting far fewer hours of vacation and golf time, President Obama still ended up playing twice as much as working on the economy since he was elected in 2008.

The report from GAI, "Presidential Calendar: A Time-Based Analysis," parallels findings by the GAI last July, adding to the documented evidence that this president spends very little time working on the economy, even though unemployment remains high and the fiscal debt and deficit remain in crisis.

Based on a variety of sources covering 1,532 days in office (through March 31, 2013) - the official White House calendar, the comprehensive presidential calendar from Politico, and media reports - the GAI report is both comprehensive and thorough.

Some Key GAI Findings regarding the President's lack of diligence on the economy:

  • Assuming a 10-hour workday, six days a week, Mr. Obama has spent only 3.6% of his time on economic matters.
  • Throughout his whole presidency, Mr. Obama has spent less than 50 workdays on any kind of economic meeting or briefing.
  • Thus far this year, the president has spent a total of six hours in economic meetings of any kind.
  • As his term has gone on, the president has spent "significantly" less and less time on the economy (almost 80% decline).
  • President Obama has attended less than half of the daily intelligence briefings (42.1% of the 1,532 days reviewed by GAI).

Some Key GAI Findings regarding the president's enjoyment of vacations and golfing:

  • The president has played 115 rounds of golf.
  • The president has spent 86 days on vacation.

Breitbart reported that Peter Schweizer, GAI President, said, "We really went out of our way to fairly and accurately reflect how the president spends his time."

The president was roundly criticized in 2012 when he played his 100th round of golf.  At the time, numerous media contrasted Mr. Obama with President Bush, who played just 24 rounds of golf in two years and the fact that he quit playing golf during the war in Iraq, telling Politico that "playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."  President Obama defended his golfing by telling Harry Smith of CBS News that "It's the only time that for six hours, I'm outside." Numerous media outlets came to his defense; the Washington Post wrote that the president's time playing golf didn't matter.

Obviously, other media agree that it doesn't matter; only a handful of media -- for instance, Breitbart, Washington Times, Frontpage and London's Telegraph -- have covered the GAI report.  Apparently, it is not news when a U.S. president spends twice the amount of time on recreation than he does working on the economy.

If he had grown up the way I did, he would have learned the grubby reality that hard work is rewarding in and of itself, as well as being a necessary ingredient for success.  Being the intellectual that he is reputed to be, perhaps someone could urge President Obama to read Ghandi, who included in his list of seven deadly sins the following: "wealth without work" and "pleasure without conscience."

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., is a spokesperson for Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.

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