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Calculating the French Connection

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia (in purple) and Sasha play in the snow on the White House's South Lawn in early March. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

How's this for a summer vacation: Paris! Malia and Sasha Obama just finished classes at Sidwell Friends and are flying to France today with their mother. The Obamas will attend the D-Day anniversary ceremony in Normandy, then the president heads back to Washington while the first lady and the girls spend a few days in the City of Lights -- and celebrate Sasha's 8th birthday Wednesday.

Given the fuss over the Obamas' date night in New York, we gotta ask: Who's picking up the tab for this trip?

"Official travel is covered by the White House," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, the first lady's press secretary. "Personal travel and expenses are covered by the family."

The flights to and from France are considered official business for the D-Day ceremony. The rest -- hotels, meals, etc. -- will be paid by the Obamas, who can afford it: President Obama earned a hefty $2.5.million last year from book sales.

The cost of presidential travel, including that of the first family, is tricky to calculate: Security concerns prevent them from taking commercial flights, and they must always be accompanied by protective details. Campaigns reimburse the government when presidents make political appearances, but other trips are covered as part of the job.

Tom Fitton, president of conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, said people are more politically sensitive to travel these days because of bailouts and chief executives' jets. "Mrs. Obama traveling to meet the president for an official function seems to me to be appropriate, official business," he said. "I don't begrudge them taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in France. I'm assuming it will cost the taxpayers something extra to bring them back home."

Details of the Paris trip are a closely guarded secret -- since it's a private vacation, the White House isn't releasing any info on where the family will stay, eat and visit. One delicious tidbit: French papers report they have reservations at Alain Ducasse's restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

By The Reliable Source  |  June 5, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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Why is it that the Obamas vacations are not a big deal. They are on vacation a lot. Seems to me that President Bush was bashed for working vacations.

Posted by: oceanlover1 | June 5, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The United States is one of the most geographically and culturally diverse nations in the world and they are choosing to spend their vacation time in Paris. (insert sarcasm) Nice.
Is there not a city good enough for them in the United States? I don’t like President Bush but at least he stayed at a home he purchased in Texas and the Clintons vacationed in Martha's Vineyard and the other Bush went to Maine all the time and Reagan vacationed at his home in California.
Give cities or towns in the United States the opportunity to reap in the benefits of having the First Family in town.

Posted by: IheartUSA1 | June 5, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Ladies, good journalists nit-pick the details. There is no restaurant at the "top" of the Eiffel Tower. There are, however, two restaurants, one on the first level (at 95 m) and the other at the second level (125 m). The entire height of the tower is 324 m. It is likely that they'll dine at the Jules Verne restaurant which was opened in 1983 and recently (2007) taken over by Alain Ducasse.

Posted by: Janie6 | June 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

While the cost of part of the trip is on their dime, why not spend their dime here and set an example?? Obama urges American's to tighten their belts - guess it doesn't apply to him....

Also, what about the taxpayer's dime for all the security??? Can we as taxpayers afford his family's vacation to Paris????

I think not...

Every day I get angrier and angrier at this administration and it doesn't stop
$550 gym shoes, $24,000 date night, a family "vacation" to Paris - what's next????

Posted by: ngg426 | June 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

B!....; b!.... - no matter what Pres. Obama and his family does people will complain.

Posted by: rlj611 | June 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

fr oceanlover1:

>...Why is it that the Obamas vacations are not a big deal. They are on vacation a lot. Seems to me that President Bush was bashed for working vacations.<

Because Dumbya never WORKED for a living, that's why. He just blipped around for his silly photo ops. He took WAY too many "vacations" in the eight long years he was Resident.

Posted by: Alex511 | June 10, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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