Donald Trump could reverse cuts to arts, poor and elderly if he stopped staying at Mar-a-Lago, figures show

Four services facing elimination under proposed cuts could be maintained at the cost of President's visits to private Florida resort over four years, figures show

May Bulman
Friday 17 March 2017 13:42
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Donald Trump could reverse his recently announced cuts to arts, poor and elderly services if he cut his trips to Mar-a-Lago and lived permanently in White House instead, figures indicate.

Calculations show four programmes that face elimination - which tackle homelessness, unemployment among over-55s, participation in the arts and helping the poor access higher education - could be maintained at the cost of the President’s trips to his private Florida resort over the course of four years.

The services amount to a total of $597 million — just less than the $600 million security arrangements for the Mr Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits are estimated to cost the taxpayer over the course of his term.

The National Endowment for the Arts, which encourages participation in the arts ($152 million), the US Interagency Council on Homelessness ($4 million), an independent agency coordinating the federal government's efforts to reduce homelessness, the Senior Community Service Employment Program ($434 million), which has helped more than one million people 55 and older find jobs and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars ($11 million), providing scholarships and fellowships in social sciences and humanities, are all facing the axe in Mr Trump's budget.

This amounts to a total of $597 million (£483 million). According to CBS News, the President spent every weekend of his first 33 days in office at the Palm Beach estate - for which security is estimated to have cost $10 million (£8.1 million).

American taxpayers must foot a bill of more than $3 million (£2.4 million) each time he travels there, rather than staying at the official presidential residence of the White House — amounting to $600 million over the four years.

The services are among hundreds of programmes and agencies the budget proposed would be eliminated to pave the way for a $54 billion (£44 billion) increase in defence spending.

The $1.15 trillion (£1 trillion) budget – titled 'America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again' — which covered only discretionary, not mandatory, spending — also stated plans to slash funding for Meals on Wheels, a program that provides meals for the poor, elderly and veterans, as well as health care and nutrition for low-income women, infants and children.

Days after the proposals were announced, Mr Trump is to return to his lavish Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach this weekend, marking his fifth visit to the resort during the short period he's been serving the White House.

Mr Trump’s frequent visits to Mar-a-Lago stand in contrast to his pledges during the campaign. He told a reporter in 2015: “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done. I would not be a president who took vacations.

“I would not be a president that takes time off… You don’t have time to take time off.”

The President's regular jaunts also appear to contradict his previous criticisms of Mr Obama, who was condemned by Republicans when he flew to Palm Beach during his presidency.

“The habitual vacationer, Barack Obama, is now in Hawaii. This vacation is costing taxpayers $4 milion +++ while there is 20% unemployment,” the now President wrote on Twitter in December 2011 - when the unemployment rate was actually 8.5 per cent.

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