Pay for your own round, Mr. President

By Dan Riley

(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

There’s been a growing sentiment amongst some over the last five years that the people of the United States would be better off if our government was run like a business. The common glorification of the idealized “businessman-president” makes sense from a certain perspective. Billionaire Mark Cuban put it well a year ago when he said, “As a business person, you have to get things done. Politicians, they’re hated because nothing happens, right? Running a company, either you get it done or you disappear.” That same mindset was used to promote Mitt Romney in 2012, though we ultimately decided to stick with the lawyer-president model.

Businessmen make moves; they get stuff done and yield profits. On a national scale, I suppose those profits would look like GDP growth and those moves might look like excellent trade deals with foreign entities. Fortunately for us, we now have a businessman-president, and he has a history of deal making.

An inseparable part of the businessman ethos is found on the golf course. There is this romantic idea of bringing out a potential partner for your firm out for a round. You hash out a few details of a joint business strategy, and then you nail your first drive. You secure the deal in the golf cart on the way to the green, a big win for the firm and for you. You are on your way to a big promotion and a shiny new car and then, like a cherry on top, you sink the putt.

Our businessman-president happens to own a golf resort, Mar-a-Lago, and he has traveled there for five out of the first eight weekends of his presidency. Politico estimates that each trip costs taxpayers approximately $3 million, while the Washington Post estimates it may be closer to $2 million. Taking the more conservative estimate, that means hardworking taxpayers have already shouldered $10 million in travel costs. President Barack Obama, who was criticized repeatedly by Trump for taking golfing vacations, racked up approximately $97 million in travel costs. In summary, Trump is on pace to match what took Obama eight years in office to accumulate in just a single year.

In his proposed budget, President Trump seeks to eliminate several low-cost agencies, some of which cost taxpayers less in a year than what Mar-a-Lago has cost us in two months. Had Trump stayed in the White House instead of going on golf trips for those five weeks, we could still fund the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness’ annual budget of $4 million. If he takes one more trip, you can add the Chemical Safety Board’s $11 million to the list. That one sounds important, I hope we can manage without it. The list goes on.

My point is not that Trump shouldn’t go golfing. Despite the fact that I find his presence in the White House to be a national embarrassment, I do rather enjoy the idea of the president of the United States taking a dignitary out for a round. It’s a sign of how far we have come as a global civilization. However, businessmen pay for their own rounds. Trump has an extravagant amount of wealth, he should be shouldering the cost and reimbursing the government for the trips.

Dan Riley is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]