June 1st, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Should taxpayer money cover Obamas' NYC date night?


Patrons at a restaurant across from the Belasco Theater peer out of the windows at the theater where the President and First Lady attended a show Saturday in Manhattan. (PHOTO CREDIT: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama made good on a campaign promise Saturday night... by taking his wife on a date to New York City.

The president says he promised his wife he would "take her to a Broadway show after it was all finished."

Mr. Obama and the First Lady flew from Washington to New York on a Gulfstream jet, then took a helicopter from the Marine One fleet from JFK airport into Manhattan. The first couple dined in the Village and then headed to Times Square, where they saw "Joe Turner's Come and Gone" - a show about a man coming to terms with the history of slavery.

New Yorkers seemed to love it all, with crowds eight-deep in places, but critics are accusing the president of insensitivity. The Republican National Committee says as the president prepared to "wing into Manhattan's theater district," GM prepared to file bankruptcy and families across America continue to struggle to pay their bills. They added that if President Obama wanted to go to the theater... why wasn't the presidential box at the Kennedy Center good enough?

The president paid for dinner and the show tickets, but the rest of the bill will land on the taxpayers; and The White House hasn't said yet how much that is. They cited fuel efficiency - saying instead of taking the larger Air Force One, the president and first lady took a smaller plane. There were two other planes carrying media and staff.

Here’s my question to you: Should taxpayers pick up the bill for the Obamas' date night in New York?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

David writes:
This is the biggest load of garbage I've ever seen. Talk about straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. The president can't just take off in his car, you know, it's called safety. Cafferty usually gets it right, but this is just so damn stupid I think he's losing it.

Isabella writes:
No. Taxpayers should not pay the bill for the president's transportation to and from date night, just like they shouldn't pay when he flies off to a fundraiser. Surprisingly, this does show a great deal of insensitivity on Obama's part. Lots of people would love to treat their spouses to date night, but with the economy the way it is, most are just focused on keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Ethan writes:
After the U.S. taxpayers were forced to foot the bill for an entire war that now seems like a completely unnecessary waste of money, Obama's evening trip to New York really does not seem that bad to me.

Ron from West Bend, Wisconsin writes:
Should the taxpayers pay for his date night? Hell no, not now. If he gets us out of this financial mess, then maybe. But not now.

John writes:
This is a loaded question. Did you address taxpayer money that goes to presidential vacations? Bush set a record for vacationing on the public dime. Isn't that also insensitive?

Aggie writes:
Dine on our dime? I don't think so! Just another photo-op for the First Family. They don't think twice about spending the taxpayer's money!

Larry writes:
Did we tip too?

Kelby from Houston, Texas writes:
It's a good thing you asked this question. I was going to start thinking about something important.

soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. Shirley Mason

    Wow! here we go again. President Obama works for the US Government. And the government CEO's (congressman, senators, & heads of departments ) all have travel allowance. Why not the President? Why can't we pick up the cost for his evening out? You did it for the other Presidents. They attended weddings and other personal stuff. Why now?

    I am tried of the GOP. I am tried of their publicity stunts! They are silly!!!! Instead of the date issues, why can't they help the President? Why can't they think of "Our" country instead of their own personal agenda. Please give me a break!

    June 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  2. Seth Bauer

    The president will have to pay an amount equivalent to two first place tickets for himself and any unnecessary staff or family that made the trip and the press will be billed as well. It's not really his fault federal law requires that everyone else be along for the ride.

    June 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  3. Winnie

    Jack. If there is anyone more deserving of being taken out to town, it is Michelle Obama. Wonderful down-to-earth kind of gal and I love her. If the taxpayers are going to complain about paying for their night out, I'll donate a few Canadian dollars from Canada. I won't be surprised if the "angry old white men" make a stink about this. Wfhat a crock of something the republicans have become. I almost feel sorry for them. Thanks, I sure enjoy your portion of the Situation Room and look forward to it every week day. Keep up the good work.

    June 1, 2009 at 3:52 pm |
  4. Cooper

    Yes!!!!! This is has been busy for the pst 100 more days. It is a bad thing that he take his wife out and relax? Sure, my husband could not afford the night, but is isn't the President of the United States of American. Good for the Obamas!!! Family value and marriage still lives!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  5. chris r

    It is grossly insensitive of him. I was making 100k at this time last year and now I don;t even have a job. I can't afford to even buy McDonalds. Its sad that he did that and that was bad judgement on the part of POTUS

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  6. Jim

    Why not? Our money going to the war in Iraq funded Chaney's retirement plan!!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Joy

    In a word...NO! Both he and she are insensitive to the American people for even thinking that doing this is okay.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  8. Shari Bullard

    You gotta be kidding me! How many times did Bush Jr. take Air Force One to Crawford for his many, many vacations? Should taxpayers have paid for that?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  9. michele

    absolutely not. I had to pay for my own dinner and show along with plane fare. i would expect the same for anyone.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  10. Greg

    Lets be realistic and cut him some slack.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  11. Todd Cadle

    Yes. Former President Bush took a total of 3 years vacation
    while in the white house all at taxpayers expense. Heck the
    guy works 24/7 365 and is paid a small fraction of what our
    sports stars make and he has the biggest job in the country.
    The republicans just like to complain, how many taxpayer expense
    holidays do they take.
    Mad as hell in St Cloud Florida

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  12. Mike Coster, Glendale, AZ

    My party has gone mad. How many Presidents have gone to tend to personal matters on Air Force One ? Nearly all of them.

    Don't much like Obama's ideas, but he is a family man, and I respect him for it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Robb

    We pay him far less than CEOs of mega-corporate failures and he has to pay for his own family's meals upstairs in the White House. He can't go out on a regular date without a huge detail of protection and security.

    Does that mean he should just be a prisoner for four or eight years? Give the guy a break and let him romance his wife. Compared to some of the other couples in the White House, it's nice to see ones that are still in love instead of having sex with an intern on my dime.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  14. Wopper

    Why not? We paid for all of Bush's vacations.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  15. John Pearson

    I think the cost of personal travel by the President should be income to the president as it really is for the private sector.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  16. Lillian Embray

    Yes, just as they did for former president Bush and his daughter's wedding.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  17. PeteC

    So what should we do allow the President to fly coach if he is not on official business? We pay for past Presidents to have Secret Service because we don't want our past Presidents harmed. This is yet another Republican "Red Herring" to help try and cover up the fact that they have no voice except that of Rush Limbaugh or worse yet Dick Cheney. Good grief.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Let me see, the RNC has a problem with what President Obama and his wife did....but yet they have no problem with the lies and false reasons to take this country to an unnecessary war that cost us how many billions???
    That is just one silly question, Jack!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  19. Steve Westman

    If you can figure out another way for the Obamas to do a "normal" thing like dinner and a show without having the Secret Service, media etc. traipsing along –let's hear it!Otherwise, in this day and age, there's nothing that can be done!At least (and at last!) we havea "regular" couple in the White House!More power to them!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  20. Chantal D

    Here’s my question to you: Should taxpayers pick up the bill for the Obamas’ date night in New York?

    A – Not at all, a plane ride to New York is not ok, pay for that dinner and your show tickets on your own Mr. Prez.........

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  21. Matthew Micheletti

    I think in these times of economic hardship, especially for out of work students like myself it is hard to grasp why he would do this? Does the promise to his wife mean more than the economic promises he made to MILLIONS of people who voted for him/or not.

    The time is now for american humility financially speaking. Set a better example Mr. President.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  22. Larry from Oklahoma

    I have no problem with their date to New York. He is on duty 24/7, and his salary is a pittance of what CEO's of large corporations receive. I think he's a bargain, so far.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  23. luvmynk

    Yes we should. It's not like the president is going to be able to take his wife on a date anytime in the next four years without it falling on the taxpayers. What's he suppose to do? Keep their quality time to a 5 mile radius in order to please the republicans? They are in love and keeping the romance alive... maybe the public should take note on how to keep a happy marriage and the divorce rate will drop.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  24. Cyndi

    NO we shouldn't pay for his date night. Is the government going to pay for my husband to fly me to NY for a nice dinner, oh but don't worry he will pay for the dinner and show. He should have to reimberse the government, the taxpayers for that. Unless he was there on US business we should not carry that bill. That flight was more than the stimulus package gave me and my husband combine.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  25. Chester Davis

    i think it is great, he has been busy trying to save this county, I think he should have a day out on the town with the wife.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  26. Stef

    Yes, he can go on my nickles anytime. He deserves it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  27. Jeff Samberg

    The taxpayers pay every time a president and family goes on vacation or to Camp David. The security arrangements make this necessary. This is a tempest in a teapot and a non issue.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  28. Tony from Torrignton

    Absolutely not. I'm not funding his date when my wife and I have to count pennies in order to get a dinner out once a month. Let him pay. Isn't she worth it?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  29. Casey Fulford

    It obvioulsy sucks that he can do that. However President Bush flew to his ranch numerous times...ohh and WASTED billions a month on a "war" that President Obama is cleaning up.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  30. J. W. Nicholson


    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  31. tonie taylor

    Leave them alone...yes we should pick up the tab...we been picking up the tab for all the previous presidents with all their mess...give it a break!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  32. S.Basileo

    As much I'd love to say we should not have to foot the bill as taxpayers- especially after President Obama's lecture to the automaker CEOs about their private jets- we would have to foot the bill any way. It's not as if President Obama can hop on a Southwest flight. No matter his mode of transportation, taxpayers have to pay for his security detail. What can we expect – for President and Mrs. Obama to spend every weekend in Washington? I certainly don't hang around every weekend. I applaud the President for carving time out for his wife despite the demands of his professional life. As is the case for all of us – work/life balance makes us all better people.

    S.Basileo, Fairfax, VA

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  33. Bon

    Last I checked the POTUS gets a salary. The personal cost of the date he should pay for from that salary, and I'm pretty sure he did, if the restaurant didn't just give him the meal for free. The Secret Service protection, transportation on the jet they took, and ground transportation are part of having a president in the first place and cost money if you're using them or not.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  34. Carol Neumann

    Our previous president went to Camp David almost every weekend and nothing was questioned. I think President Obama is working extremely hard. He and his wife are doing amazing things to try to fix the mess our country was left in. They deserve a night out on the time. As long as we require the president to travel the way he has to, we should pay for him to try to have as normal a life as possible. Get over it and get on to things that are worth discussing.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm |
  35. Mick

    Are you serious? Should the taxpayers have funded all the trips to Texas taken by George W. Bush, the most vacationing president in our nation's history?

    Give me a break. When the right wing decides to hold Republicans to the same standards it holds Democrats to, they'll have credibility on these ridiculous non-issues.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  36. Ross Schoofs

    Perceptually, this wasn't the best move on Obama's part at this time. However, I think America needs to realize this isn't Joe-Schmoe that can just hop a commercial flight to New York. National security doesn't hinge on GM and Chrystler CEOs chartering a personal jet - it does with the President of the United States.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  37. Benny from Texas

    He is the President of the United States, so him given his life to public service for the next eight years come with a price. For him, no more real privacy, for us as tax payers; keeping him safe is the number one them of the day, no matter if it was date night or not. I thought it was admirable that he bought his on tickets; past Presidents put just about every expense on the tax payer. Remember when the war in Iraq was going strong? Well during those times bush played golf, and Chaney shot a person hunting with him, surely President Obama can take his wife out on a date, and we the American public extend to him a little protection.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  38. Troy Brooks

    In December of 2002, George W. Bush took a Hunting Trip to Wyoming... Where was the concern about taxpayers dollars??? Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, and other sitting presidents have all used taxpayer money for "nights out", vacations, trips home to see family, etc... Why the criticism on this president? What about the tax money used to renovate the Crawford Ranch? Shouldn't we be concentrating on Health Care, the Economy, or the troops.....

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  39. Velma Smith

    The President and First Lady spend 24/7 working hard for all of us. They have no inexpensive travel options, but that is no reason for us to imprison them. Of course they have the right to continue as many normal experiences as possible!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  40. Rob

    Yeah sure, why not. It surely is insignificant to the bill he's already run up. Enjoy Mr. President.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  41. Chris

    I dont think theres anything wrong with the president and his wife having a nite out, however flying to new york on the taxpayers dime is the same as the motor industry exec's taking there private jets to washington...it makes him seem like a hypocrite...especially in troubled times

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  42. Alan Erickson

    Yes the tax payers should foot the bill, part of being president of the United States is that you give up your freedom to just go to movie with you love, you need an entire security detail to do so, I am sure he would prefer the normal freedoms of a civilian, but as commander in chief he doesn't have them. That job title shouldn't preclude him from having a LIFE!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  43. andyz Lynn, MA

    I would much rather have the tab for a Presidential Date Night paid for by the government than have the same government pay for the incompetence exhibited by General Motors at taxpayer expense. The former is a romantic outing for a high visibility couple. The latter is the rape of the public coffers to save a giant firm that has proven conclusively over the past several decades that when given a choice, GM can always be counted to make a bad decision.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  44. DZ

    Why not? We paid for Bush to go to his Texas ranch. Fair is fair.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  45. Scott Wilson

    Yes we should pay the tab for his flight. But why did the staff and media have to follow them in government paid planes?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  46. Zach Grisbee

    It doesn't really matter. We pay his salary from taxpayer dollars anyway so if he does it from his salary or from public funds it's all really the same idea. At least he didn't take the huge Air Force 1 and fly it through downtown NY for a photo op. I'm not a big fan of Obama but let him have a night out with his wife. If this becomes a monthly outing across America, then I might be concerned. But for now, let him keep a healthy home life.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  47. Ken

    Sure...he's our President but still human. He needs days off and the expense of those days off for security are our obligation. He could have gone to Camp David and had 4-500 people clamoring ahead of him to set up, provide for security, screen people, etc., etc.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  48. number cruncher

    Get a life..the President can not fly commerical. If reporters wanted to cover this personal trip. then they the media should foot their own bill. At least he didn't try to say it was offical business. He gets points for being upfront about it

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  49. Lance

    Show me a harder working President and I might take issue with this.

    Give the guy a break, he is working his tail off getting this country out of a mess overlooked by a former President that spent tons of money doing a whole lotta nothing.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  50. Drew McMurry

    Why is this news at all? Perhaps the Republicans should ask should we have paid for all the vacation days taken by former President Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas? He sure seemed to like Air Force One back then.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  51. Mike, from Florida

    Taxpayers paid for all of Bush's countless vacation days...if Bush is going to leave the wheel for that long, I think it's no big deal that Obama took a weekend with his wife.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  52. Steve - Ohio

    I am not a fan of nor did I vote for The President. However he certainly deserves the opportunity to do things we take for granted. Society has created the immense security required each day. We the taxpayer have to pay for our transgressions.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  53. MikeS

    Jack, we're paying for everything else, why not just keep paying.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  54. michael sonneberg

    Hell no, let him pay for his own transportation if he wants a night out.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  55. Donna Rogers

    No – the taxpayers shouldn't pick up the bill for the "date night". There is too much adversity in society today for the "President" to say he fulfilled a promise. Point being, Mrs. Obama should have suggested something else in the local area...

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  56. Rick

    Sure.. Why not!
    You have deal with a stressful job somehow...
    Wine and dining the lady is always a smart choice!
    *wink* *wink*

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  57. Robert

    Gee, Jack. I dunno. How many vacation days did we fund for George W? Three hundred and what? You're carping about a night on the town?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  58. Susan

    I doubt that you will allow this on your website but, it's not just the RNC that has something to say about it. Democrats alike are disgusted with Obama's spending spree in this terrible economy. We struggle while the Obama's seem to see no end to the money they can now spend at tax payers expense.
    He kept his word to his wife but, deceived the American people.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  59. Lloyd Gallant

    The president is entitled to a personal life. What are you suggesting, that for the duration of his four-year term he never travel on personal business? A president's trip anywhere costs money, that's just a fact of life. He did his part by paying for his tickets and that's all that should be expected of him. I think being on call 24-7 for four years in a row entitles him to a perk now and then, don't you? After all, it's not like it's happening every week.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  60. Howard

    I'm sure the enitre date cost less than a one way Air Force One flight to Crawford, TX.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  61. aaron eaquinto

    Sure we should pay for their date night, just like we should pay for the AIG executive bonuses!

    -Aaron, Orem, Utah

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  62. Boisepoet

    Where you asking this question when we were funding all of 'w"s vacations in Texas? That dude probably worked less as president than any other two termer (and maybe even some one-terms), yet cost the US about 5+ trillion in new debt.

    Please stop with the silly and get back to some real journalism.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  63. SDL

    Did we not fund GW going back and forth to Crawford every other week? The bottom line is it costs money to move the President anywhere, even down the street from the White House. Republicans are really being petty now.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  64. Alex

    Jack in light of the OBGYN being murdered yesterday by a right wing domestic terrorist (clearly his intent is to scare OBGYN providers and their customers away from their clinics, pure terrorism) – what would be prudent about sending the POTUS and FLOTUS to NYC unprotected ? What if they were killed by some teabagging gun loving nut jobs ? What would the cost of that be ? Think about it. Never mind the human loss we'd have another election (hundreds of millions), a stock market freak out and possibly escalating violence. I think security for the President comes with the job, and that job is 24×7 for 4 years.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  65. Buc

    Of course taxpayers should not have to foot the bill.. but then who in Washington cares about that??

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  66. Donny, Sacramento

    I believe that the Obamas are entitled to do what they want in their free time. They are two highly successful people who happen to be a couple who need time to relax and be happy. I think that a leader who can relax and enjoy life will make better choices when it's crunch time. So yes, it is alright if the taxpayers pick up part of the tab for this date and by the sound of it is seems like this is a one time thing. See Obama does make good on some of the promises he made during campaign season!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  67. SAI

    To the extent the tax payers have imposed the need for a security cordon around the president – yes, they should. Left to themselves, the Obamas may have been happy to drive up to NYC or even take the Azela Express to NYC, have their date and return. Then all will howl about the imposed need for security and the cost of all of that security.

    It is ironic that we should call him the leader of the free world, but do not want to give him a bit of freedom to be a loving husband to his wife. Assuming all this cost $30K – spread over 300 million citizens, that amounts to a miniscule fraction of a penny. As a taxpayer, I am happy to pay a penny to support this outing of our president – and that should be enough to shut up scores of others who want to complain!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  68. Matthew

    He's employed by the taxpayers, so a very sizable amount of his income is from the taxpayers as it is. In a sense, then, we bought the tickets and the dinner, too. Once you're the President of the United States, anything and everything you do requires escorts and security. Why should this have been any different? What if he was killed by a dittohead whilst flying coach on American Airlines? Let the man have a date. It's one night.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  69. Jennifer K from New Mexico

    Jack, would this really be the first time a president and his family have done something personal on the taxpayers dime? Is this really something to be all that upset about? We chose this man to lead our country, and we should all remember that he is just that – a man, a human being – and he should be allowed to have some semblance of a real life in the midst of everything that he is responsible for maintaining.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  70. Myth Buster

    If the President is required to have the all the security and staff with him at all times, then yes. He has the most time consuming, high stress job in the world. If he wants to take his wife on an occasional date to let off some steam, why not.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  71. Ramesh Dave

    I do not believe people should pay for President's personal trips. I am a strong supporter of President Obama. However, he should not do personal travel at my expense.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  72. Frank Gray

    This comes down to whether you like President Obama or not. If you don't like him very much, anything he does is quickly turned into an example of insensitivy or grandstanding. If you think he's a good guy, then his actions simply remind us that the american dream isn't dead. A man who struggles to pay the bills, can appreciate and feel hopeful in knowing that someday he will be able to take his own wife out on the town. We are a nation of subjectivity. Our opinions are already formed before we here the information being reported. Personally, I like the president and I'm glad to see them enjoying on of our many domestic freedoms.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  73. Jeff

    Phoenix, Az

    Tell me why the taxpayers need to pay for a date between the President and his wife? That truly is amazing and so disappointing that our political leaders truly think they have so much power they can just do what they want with the taxpayers money and not be held accountable for it. Obama made 4.5 million last year...if he wants to fly to New York for a date (which I think is great if that's what they want to do), they certainly can pay for it themselves. Truly unbelievelable.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  74. Dave Franklin

    Hell No

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  75. Ken Shugart

    While some conservatives will make try to make this into a much bigger deal than it is (Tempest in a teapot, anyone?), Mr. Obama is the President of the United States. What's he supposed to do, take AMTRAK to New York? In the larger scheme of things, this is no big deal, and those who try to make it so are demonstrating how desperate they are to try to discredit the President.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  76. Ron Thibodeau

    If other president's have had similar trips paid for by taxpayers, then I don't see the issue of calling out Obama for doing things past presidents have done.

    As to why the box at the Kennedy Center wasn't good enough....well, Obama promised his wife he would take her to a BROADWAY show. Since Broadway is in NY, I don't think the Kennedy Center in WASHINGTON DC was going to cut it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  77. Paul Pace

    Being the president comes with travel perks, that's just the way it is. If we're going to nitpick a flight to New York for an evening we have to nitpick every flight every president takes, many of which are for PR appearances or campaigning for an agenda in key areas, not exactly vital to the nation's interests. Maybe presidents should simply have a travel budget per year they have to keep under.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  78. David from Sacramento,CA

    Jack: Are you telling me President Obama is the first President to take his wife out to dinner, maybe even out of town? Why are we all of a sudden bringing up issues like this for this President? The man can't even go out for a freaking hamburger when he gets hungry without someone saying he should be be at work instead of eating. I think we are moving into the realm of silly season with some of the complaints. He is a human being first with human needs like food, exercise, entertainment. Do we really want a President who lets himself get so stressed out and overworked that he ends up making bad decisions? I think not.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  79. Eric

    Yes, the taxpayer should pay for it. You can't expect the president to go without date nights for the next eight years, you can't expect the president to fly commercial, and a $400K salary is not enough to pay for private planes (x3 including press and secret service).

    Should Bush have paid for all the trips to Crawford?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  80. Joe

    Didn't we all pay for Bush's bi-monthly escapades to his ranch in Texas? Where was the RNC back then to call him "insensitive"?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  81. Ruth Porter

    Yes, taxpayers should pick up the expense of "date night" for the President and Mrs. Obama. I realize that times are tight, they're really tight for many people, including my family. Their lives are not over just because he's been elected President. I'm all for President Obama remembering where his personal priorities are – as long as it doesn't become a habit during his term in office. He's fulfilled his promise to Mrs. Obama – which to me means he's a man of his word – now he can concentrate on the office and those responsibilities. It'll be interesting to see where and what the next date night consists of. Perhaps they'll fly to Crawford, Texas since Air Force One is quite knowledgeable of that route. I didn't hear too much about President and Mrs. Bush flying back and forth to Crawford at the drop of a hat during their time in office.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  82. Gary. Boone NC

    The answer is simple, NO. With the present economic problems there is absolutely no reason or excuse that this personal trip for the President and his wife should be paid for by the taxpayers. I have no problem with the President taking his wife out, but that trip should be paid for out of his pocket and the taxpayers made aware that he is doing so.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  83. Henry

    There is nothing wrong with the president taking Air Force One to New York.This is a misguided and deceptive arguement.Did the presedent not spend his own money to have the white house redecorated $100,000 if I recall the CNN report.I certainly expect him to have an allowance for entertainment.He has a high stress job which he is doing well.Did you ask about W' trips to the ranch.I think he was also justified.What are we coming to when every single expense of the president is questioned and dissected .I wish Jon and Kate went to New York minus eight to reboot their marraige!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  84. Seth

    He's the president. Whether people appreciate the job he's doing or not, the man works hard and deserves some occasional R&R with his wife. I don't think 'insensitivity' is the correct word. I think it's excess 'sensitivity' on whomever questions what he does on the little private time he has. It's not the president's fault that GM failed to make the right business decisions over the last several years.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  85. TC

    No...I can afford to fund my own date night with my wife let alone fund his with my taxes !!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  86. Steve/Boston

    If the Obama's paid for their dinners and theatre tix, I'm guessing the cost to taxpayers is no more than it would have been if they had attended an event at the Kennedy Center. There would still be transportation, and security costs.

    Get real! Being POTUS doesn't require living the next eight years in a bubble. The Repubs are wrong to bring this up as an issue. In fact, Jack, why don't you have a staff person research how many times Pres. Bush traveled, dined, etc., on taxpayer money?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  87. May Raymond

    What is the difference in a broadway show or a vacation back home in IL either way he has to fly, he needs security. Nice to see a happily married president.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  88. john Hernik

    Should taxpayers foot the bill for Obamas date? Should Obama even have gone on the date the night before GM declared bankruptcy and half the country is in a downturn? NO
    Boy you Americans have been letting your politicians get away with murder for way too long. If a Canadian Prime Minister did what your Presidents ( past and current ) did in terms of wasting taxpayers money on private jets, security detail, advance teams for the date and everything else ( which is probably in the hundreds of thousands of dollars ) he/she would be toast. Why is it the American media is just now getting around to figuring out how much your royality... er I mean President wastes in taxpayers dollars. Sheesh you give the Presidents of GM and Chrysler and Ford hell for using their private jets all the time why not your President?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  89. NS

    Yes, tax payers should pay the bill because if he wasn't president he would be able to freely travel to New York with no security or media and watch the theater. It is part of the perks of his job, arguably the toughest job in the world. His going there also helps boost that local economy.

    However perhaps the president should consider the timing of this all...because it does strike one as being a bit fantastical and we get that he loves his wife and all but he should wait till the economy turns and companies are not going bankrupt on daily basis to make such seemingly extravagant demostrations of love.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  90. Richard

    The bigger question is why if a republican mouthpiece says something does the media consider that remark to be important enough to give it continued coverage beyond the snide simpleton remark which it is. If the president moves at all the taxpayers cover it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  91. Just Me

    No we should not pay for this bill. It shows how elitist and out of touch Obama is with the working class. While we lose our jobs, our homes, our everything, Obama is flying around in his private jet, going out to swanky restaurants, and then seeing a show.

    Reminds me of the times in France right before the revolution started. Obama and his elitist friends are destroying this country.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  92. Eric

    Why yes, I do believe our President deserves a little time to himself. This was only one night out on the town....in a REAL town at that, and not some country club filled to the brim with elites. The way I see it, Obama going to a play looks a lot better than Bush teeing off countless times.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  93. Gregory, Washington DC

    When a President (or a Governor or a Mayor...) wants to go jogging, he's required to bring along a security detail. That costs taxpayers money. When he wants to go to the movies, he must also use official transportation. When he wants to do *anything*, it's the same thing. President & Mrs. Obama are professional adults who wish to take a short trip to NYC to catch dinner and a show, something not altogether out of the ordinary for professional adults in DC.

    If the Obamas were going on extended vacations to their home thousands of miles away, (say, in Texas, for example) would this be an issue? Or is that a good ol' American way of doing things, and therefore acceptable while dinner and a show in Manhattan are not?

    This shouldn't be an issue.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  94. Voter

    No, the Obamas should pay for this themselves. The country is in a recession, we are struggling and the last thing we need is to pay for the Obama's night out.

    I never heard of the Bushes or the Clintons doing something like this! Yes, Obama paid for dinner and the tickets, but he should pay for the staff, the security, all that was needed to keep him safe while on a date.

    We are in a recession!!!! It is a waste of taxpayers' funds to pay for planes, security, etc, so the Obamas can go on a date! Is this why he wanted to get elected? To show the nation how he and his wife go on dates? Or is he really serious about fixing the RECESSSION?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm |
  95. Tim

    Jack, please don't forget to thank President Bush for being alive, I'm getting a tired of reminding you of this!!! Whats another 200K after 13 trillion. They can just jack up the printing presses for a few seconds more and cover the cost. This story is a tactic used by the media to take the focus off of the ineptness of this administration. Try to blame him for a small transgression leaving a much larger one on the table.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  96. Craig Moone

    NO , the taxpayers should not have to pay for this "trip". Obama is good at telling people to tighten thier belts , but not me. It's do as I say not as I do. If Bush had done this , there would be such a big out cry from the press. It would all you heard for days.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  97. Dave

    I'm glad that he payed for the meal and show.

    Being the president I wouldn't want anything to happen to him so I can say that I don't mind paying for him and his secret service agents to fly to NY. I applaud him for opting to take a smaller plane.

    What I don't want to pay for is the media. If you want to cover the president you pay your own way.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  98. Greg

    Really Seriously just what was he suppose to do rent and drive to NY whats the point of being president if you cant enjoy the perks every job has them

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  99. Lori Best-Andre

    Since we are still paying for all of Bush's mistakes, I don't think the Obamas' night on the town will bankrupt us. The Republicans complain when they go out to dinner in Washington; when they build their girls a swing set; about Michele Obama's wardrobe.

    Enough already!

    It is abundantly clear that President Obama and the First Lady are being judged by a completely different set of rules than past presidents.

    I wonder why? What is different about them?


    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  100. dave

    so are you saying that if you are president that you can never go out again? you are imprisoned? come on man. give it a break.

    dallas, texas

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  101. dems be dopes

    Why not? We seem to be funding everything else he wants.

    That was a terrific example of how not to lead. Suprised?

    Then again, like we have a choice.....

    Oceanside, CA

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  102. Mark Hoffman

    Oh please. I'm a staunch conservative, the kind liberals love to hate, and not a fan of Obama. But I don't have even the slightest problem with footing the bill for our President to take his wife out. I may not agree with his politics, but I don't envy the stress and toll of his job. He is owed the rare occasional outing with his family, even if it costs us a few bucks. It's paltry in comparison to the billions he is wasting every where else...

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  103. Eric- Beaverton, OR

    We have paid for every sitting president's "date night". Why should he be treated differnetly? Answer: he shouldn't.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  104. Howard Kennedy

    No way should we have to pay for Obama's date. He married her and he should pay, He thinks he is King anyway and we should all serve him.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  105. Jason Burns

    Although I'm not a big fan of President Obama, I think this is much ado about nothing. What people forget is the presidency is one of the most demanding jobs in the world. Given what little free time the President has, it's nice to he can make some time to keep his promise to the First Lady. Everyone deserves a little free time. As for the bill, it's not like he has much choice. The Secret Service isn't going to let the First Couple hop in the family car and head to a local theater. Any outing is going to cost some serious cash regardless of where they gp. I think the man has earned this one. There are more important things in the world to worry about.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  106. Alan

    The President is in a no-win situation with many people. Stay cloistered in Washington, and he is out of touch with the people. Go out and have a good time, he is wasting tax payers dollars. It is unfortunate that he cannot just go by himself, but that is the world we live in.

    I say, good for him.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  107. doug from Woodland CA

    Obama is president 24/7. Certain costs, like security and transport, should be borne by the public. While he should cover the tickets himself, I wouldn't be surprised if he was comp'd, as this is great PR for the show, Broadway, and NY in general.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  108. Christopher

    I will most cetainly pay for a Dinner, Play, and a trip to where ever. It beats the last President that made me pay for the Iraq war.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  109. Cindy Jones

    Absolutely not.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  110. Joyce Cornell

    I think it's great that the first couple went on a date to NYC, despite the economy. However, they can and should pay for it themselves.
    My husband and I pay for our own date nights.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  111. Tice - Chicago

    I hope we don't have to pay the media's airfare...that's ridiculous.

    The prez is supposed to be able to have some semblance of a "private" life now and then, unfortunately for us he costs a lot to watch out for, but that's the way it is. I think it would be admirable of him to help offset some of the costs but he is by no means obliged to do so.

    At least for this president taking some time off is a one-nighter with the wife at a play and not two weeks plus chilling at Rancho Relaxo.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  112. Nia

    Jack, what is the difference between this president and the "dates" of other presidents; what would make this question relevant now vs. 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 30 years ago?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  113. Grace - Albany NY

    Oh why not. We pay for everything else politians do in Washington and everywhere else. At least they act like real people and aren't jetting off to a ranch or a mansion somewhere. They don't have another house to go to I don't think anyway.

    Who paid for all those trips of former presidents? We did, so why is this such a hot button?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  114. Mark

    The president should pay for the entire cost of this trip out of his pocket unless there was some type of offical business that caused him to be in New York at the time. I'm not really sure who is handling PR in the White House these days but couldn't somebody have said "Hey wait a minute...let's think about scheduling this along with official business" so there's not the appearance of "well I just wanted to take my wife out so we're going to New York – gas up the jet". It doesn't matter if they took a smaller one it's still costing money to do it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:04 pm |
  115. Hypoluxa

    This is so ridiculous! Give the guy a break!! As if he had any choice in the matter. As if the Secret Service walked in and said "Well sir, you have two choices. You can take all of the official means of presidential transportation (which the tax payers will have to pay for), or you can just take a taxi, get on the delta shuttle, and stay at a holiday inn. It's your choice!!

    I feel quite certain that he would have done just that, had it been a possibility. But instead, the republicans are going to use this as an excuse to hate on Barack.

    Let's see, how many times did Bush go off on vacation (which I'm sure the taxpayers sprang for as well) when there was some sort of "crisis" going on?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  116. J McDaniel

    Who cares? There is too much in the world going on. Jack you should be able to find something more interesting to talk about.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  117. G.W.

    At a glance, I don't see a problem with enjoying some of the perks of being president, long as the privilege isn't being abused constantly. Not sure if previous presidents were scrutinized like Obama has for taking the 'company car out for a spin'. Besides, do you really see the First couple taking a commercial flight to NY?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  118. sandy

    Just imagine if this was done by President Bush and his wife.
    How would media react and you would react.?

    Let's be honest, It is time to wake up, America.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  119. Chapman (Portland, OR)

    Well Jack, unfortunately the times we live in call for security when it comes to the President. I'd say so far Obama has shown remarkable restraint being as young as he is in not taking greater advantage of the perks available to him. As President he still deserves a night out with his wife every now & again & it's not like he's spending every other weekend in Crawford. I think picking up the tab for his travels (considering security risks) is the least we can do for our President.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  120. Gerry Lewis

    I can understand the use of a small Air Force jet; however, why in the world was a need for three Air Force jets to have the press accompany the President. Are there no reporters in New York City?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  121. Roy

    Seems to me the President made a promise to his wife and stuck with it. So family values only matter to the Republicans when it doesn't cost them anything? Imagine if they drove the motorcade to NYC!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  122. george

    Seems like it was only a few years ago that we were asking ourselves if it was right for the public to be picking up the tab for a war in Iraq. In comparison to picking up the cost of a friendly night out for the president, and his lovely wife, and the afore mentioned it is a price that I would gladly pay for rather than the treasures, and precious lives that have been lost because of an irrational invasion of another country.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  123. steve

    The president requires protection and can not be transported by conevntional means. I see this trip as an investment in a man who experiences incredible pressure doing an incredibly difficult job. As a physician I mak tough decions every day, and appreciate the value of an occasional break. Such time and trips are necessary to maintain perspective,and therefore I suppport and definitely did pay part of this trip ( I pay 50% of my gross income in taxes). If he was abusing this privelege by weekly trips not on givernment business, sure, I would expect him to pay for it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  124. Diana Clarke

    Jack, give it a rest!!! Just because the Obamas were able to get into the White House doesn't mean they were supposed to be made prisoners there!! It is not the President's call regarding the level of security needed for himself and his family to travel. That's entirely left up to the Secret Service. Didn't taxpayers pay for the extensive number of vacation trips the Bush family took flying to their Crawford Texas ranch? I don't ever remember you asking that those trips be reimbursed, or implying that flights to Texas on the taxpayer dime was excessive. Enough already!

    Diana in Phoenix.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  125. John, Fort Collins,CO

    The theme song for the Democratic Party, "Happy Days are Here Again", became very popular during the early days of the Great Depression saying, "howdy gay times, cloudy gray times, you are now a thing of the past". Watching the Obamas celebrate and enjoy life was worth every penny of my share of the taxes it cost. Hopefully, the good cheer will be contagious.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  126. Carol

    These critics will have something negative to say no matter what the President does. He's the President for heaven's sake, he can't just get in his car and drive to a restaurant. As president, he has a personal life and I think its wonderful that he shows us the man as well as the president. I hope he does it more often.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  127. Trudy

    NO, what about the rest of us who can no longer afford date night. I can see Michelle coming out on the balcony saying "LET THEM EAT CAKE". Is this the change that people voted for?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  128. Peter S in Birmingham, AL

    The President and Mrs. Obama have a right to try and maintain as much of an "ordinary" life as possible. They will never be able to go out in public again without the entourage of security and media that goes along with being the leader of the free world. He paid for the dinner and the show, we paid for the Secret Service and staff. I just hope the media paid their own way.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  129. Frances, Alabama

    We paid for Bush to fly all over the country to campaign for GOPers. We paid for Bush to go to Crawford and cut brush on the ranch while people died in New Orleans.

    After these fiascos, paying for a first-couple date night doesn't seem too bad.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  130. Jack Collins

    Yes. For comp time reimbursement for he and Michelle. I am sure they have earned it.
    Jack Collins
    Guilford, CT

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  131. RM

    The President has had a lot to deal with and he's still young, so why not spend some time outside the White House bubble?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  132. JP Bosw

    People need to give this date thing a rest. The President took his wife to dinner and a show. The perks of his position gives him access to a few planes. We have sent so much money funding a war we should not have been in in the first place for the past seven years and we get more grumbling about this date and what it cost than the money we have sent on this war. This shows you why we are in the mess( that this President is try so hard to clean up) we are in the today. We don't know what is really important in this country!!!!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  133. aaron

    no. obama and his family should never be allowed to leave DC or do anything that is not directly related to his job. he should be a prisoner to his job and official duties.

    good call on bringing this very important topic up. we could have been discussing the environment, our economy, the iraq war or some other issues...but this is real news.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  134. Bob

    Absolutely. Bush would have still been clearing brush, while the economy crashed. Obama is a working, thinking, and awesome President.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  135. Sharon Jacobs

    The president and his wife deserved the night out in New York. It is an unfortunate fact that so much security has to be inplace for there safety (a sad testament about the world we live in and some of the people who live in it). This man, his wife and their family have made the ultimate sacrifice as far as I am concern, they can't do the simple things in life anymore. And when was so much fuss was made about previous presidents? I love this country, I love this president, I love this first lady, I love this family and they deserve what other presidents have enjoyed.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  136. Gabriel from Hartford, CT

    If it was for official business, then yes. If it was a night out on the town, HELL NO! He should reimburse every cent. It appears politicians loose more and more shame the higher they go.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  137. David Burzynski

    Second of all, yes. The tax payers should pay for it. He is working his ass off and has done more work thus far than the Crawford Village Idiot did in his entire 8 years.

    He paid for his part of the evening and because he is President he is required certain security and transportation. Since he is giving up his life for 4 or 8 years, I think we can "let the ole boy out" for an evening.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  138. John

    I didnt vote for him and would like to see him lose in 2012 but this is just not really that big of a concern. Does any Pres deserve to have fun on the Tax payer dime? With how little the President makes in comparison to the CEO of a large company a night or two on the town wouldnt be out of order. Let the man have his fun.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  139. Jerry L.Rhodes

    The President is required to be provided with tax payer funded transportation all the time. Just imagine taking the shuttle from Washington, DC to New York City. No non presidental personnel would be on this shuttle, then you would hear the public outcry about not having access to public transportation.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  140. Kenn in Colorado

    Did Bush pay for every trip to Texas? If taxpayers subsidized his transportation (on Air Force One) to clear brush on the ranch and drink beer with his buddies, why squawk about this one?

    I'm sure Obama would jump at the chance to be free of the responsibilities of being President for an evening, outside the public glare. Because that's not possible, it's fair for the government to cover his costs.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  141. Kathy

    Bush also did "work" at his ranch and had world leaders there. Camp David should be considered the retreat and left at that.
    Obama opts to fly across the country just to announce a program instead of doing it in DC; he acts like he's still campaigning, which he is, for his socialist ways.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  142. John McCarter

    I do believe that we the taxpayers funded the inordinate number of vacation trips to the ranch and Camp David for our former president, so I do not really have a problem with funding this date night for our current president.....not news.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  143. Rusty Cooper

    Hey Jack-I sent a fax & an email to the White House telling Obama I appreicated his using a more fuel efficient AF-1 for his "date night". That made it a little easier for my wife & I to swallow as our date night was spent dfriving our 14 year old car to the local Food Lion to take advantage of their grocery specials then splurging o na BBQ palte at a local BBQ joint. I also told him that 1/3 of what was spent in taxpayers dollars for his little soiree would be more than enough for me to keep my 2 small retail businesses afloat in this rotten economy for at least another 2 years. Of course, I have received no response from the White House.

    Rusty & Amy Cooper
    Hickoory, NC

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  144. larry self

    we should pay for his date. he is on duty 24 hours a day.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  145. Dan Schaffer

    Of course taxpayers should not foot the bill. I'm quite certain that both the restaurant and the theater would be more than happy to comp the President and First Lady, as the buzz and free advertising will recoup their cost 100 fold.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  146. Michelle

    No, tax payers should not pay for date night. Honestly, with what is going on right now, if Bush had done this, you (the Media) would be ALL over him!

    Stop being biased and report the news!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  147. Candy Scott

    Of course we, the taxpayers should pay for his date. We need to keep the glamour and persona going – like we are still in campaign mode. The world has expectations.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  148. Ross Carradine

    George Bush spent more time on vacation than any other sitting president in the history of our country. And this while two wars were raging.

    According to an August 2003 article in the Washington Post, President Bush has spent all or part of 166 days during his presidency at his Crawford, Texas, ranch or en route. Add the time spent at or en route to the presidential retreat of Camp David and at the Bush family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and Bush has taken 250 days off as of August 2003. That's 27% of his presidency spent on vacation. Although to be fair, much of this time is classified as a "working vacation."

    You're telling me taxpayers can't fund a trip to NYC (a short jaunt from DC) but we should fund cross country trips to Texas for George Bush? Where was all the outrage then?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  149. Daniel P.

    Obviously the taxpayers should not have to foot this bill. We're already paying him far too much at $400,000 a year. You think perhaps someone else would be willing to do his job for $150,000 a year ?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  150. Anthony

    Sure Jack, why not. I mean, we are all owners of car manufacturers now, and should be "rolling in the dough" any second now...

    June 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm |
  151. Philip Marcus

    I don't see a problem. Pres. Lincoln took in a show in DC and we all know the result. We learned as a nation to protect our presidents, which costs money. Nor should we tell them they must limit themselves to Washington art during their terms, not good for the nation to do that. So we must pay for the Gulfstream and the helo.

    Phil Marcus
    Columbia MD

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  152. David

    You must be kidding. Nobody seemed to care when taxpayers were paying for George W. Bush to fly to Crawford or Camp David for 6-week long summer vacations while the war he started continued on unabated.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  153. Chris

    There are meaningful costs to being President of the United States. George Bush took a number of trips to Crawford, Texas on Air Force One to relax, work away from Washington and host Diplomats from around the world. One could argue that if he spent time clearing Brush, then the tax payers shouldn't pick up the Air Force One tab.

    I would argue that President's need some down time, whether in the hills of Texas or in the theatres of New York. We need the President to be safe, and that is expensive; we also need them to have a personal life ... we cannot separate the two. The fact that Obama took a vastly cheaper Gulf Stream is quite surprising in fact as we want the President to, at a moments notice, be airborne and able to command the country in war or in peace.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  154. John Weigel

    Mr O and his dear wife are such an improvement over you know who, that we should gladly pay. Look at all he has done since taking office. He works awfully hard. I worry about his health. Next trip, a double date with the Emanuels to a real kosher deli!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  155. Don Dawson

    From; Geneseo, Illinois

    Yes! Pay for the date. His office places hm in a position that an outing with "normal" costs cannot be. Further, I think it adds to his appearance of accessability even though security issues provide for just the reverse.

    Am a Republican who is reverting to the "best man for the job".

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  156. Alfred Peterson

    The American People should pay for Mr. President and First Lady trip to New York City. That is part of the package of being President. The media did not question what former Presidents and First Ladies trips home and other locations in the United States. That was part of the package of being President and First Lady.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  157. Sara Moriarty

    NO, why should we? I can't think of any reason we should. No one is paying for my my airfare when I go out of town.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  158. Laquita Oliver

    Everything that he does, the Republicans has something negative to say about it, when they are the reason that the US is in the finanical disaster in the first place. He deserves to take his wife and family anywhere that he chooses. SO WHAT HE TOOK HIS WIFE ON A DATE!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  159. Michelle Remmerden

    It would be difficult to understand why anyone would begrudge him this perk. He has put his heart and soul into solving some of our countrys biggest problems (with his hands tied behind his back). His accomplishments to date could not have been done Monday thru Friday 9 to 5. He deserves a treat, although I am sure that taking transportation provided by the taxpayers was done for efficiency, allowing him to get back to work sooner than later.

    His detractors need to stop whining and pitch in to help or shut up!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  160. Billy

    Yes, we should pay for it. We can't expect the president to be couped up all the time.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  161. Paul Kirby

    I'm sure there was a moment of offical business tucked in there somewhere, so we taxpayers will wind up footing the bill. But do you really believe that he paid for the theater tickets?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  162. Curt Dudley-Marling

    The taxpayers have long paid for presidents' vacations and recreation. Maintaining the presidential retreat at Camp David is expensive as was George W. Bush's frequent trips to and from his Texas ranch. It is impractical (and risky) for presidents to travel commercially and unreasonable to expect them to live the life of a monk. So I have no problem with the taxpayers paying for the Obama's "date" in NYC.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  163. Terri Risner

    I am currently unemployed due to "budgetary shortages" at my job and my husband works at GM. We can't afford a dinner and a show right now. We are watching and trying to stretch every penny in our budget. That being said, it is important that couples do fun things together for the sake of their marriages. It may not have been in the best of taste for the President and Mrs. Obama to have such a lavish date but they have a different standard of living than I have. Maybe the President should pay for his own transportation for these types of events? I am not angry but I am jealous.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  164. Matthew from Orange,CA

    Jack, we pick up the tab when the President blows his nose or uses the toilet, don't we? We pick up the tab when he watches the news or he needs his suit pressed. Why can't we pick up the tab when the guy shows the country how to treat a lady after about 125 days of working hard? I'll guarantee you we spend more money on nightly corporate wingdings and resort retreats everytime we swipe our credit cards or pay the 'fees' on our household bills in a week than we will ever pay for the Obama's romantic getaways in their entire term in the White House. That 'microscope' the GOP uses can be turned against them as well, so watch it Repubs!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  165. IndyVoter

    Absolutely! If Corporate CEOs can make millions in "perks" for doing nothing, and the oil companies can gross Billions by monopolizing and price fixing and no one says a mumbling word, surely the Commander-In-Chief, Leader-of-the-free-World can enjoy a "perk" like going to a broadway show with his wife every once in a while. The President's salary is paultry compared to what these big-wigs, oil execs get and I don't see the Republicans doing anything to stop that. Plus, I want a President that is smart enough to know that its healthy to relieve some stress and balance his life with fun & relaxation. Good for him!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  166. Rie

    Of course we should. What a sily question. We funded all of elder Bush's trips to Kennebunkport & George W's trips back and forth to his ranch in Texas. That's the way it goes sometimes. Presidents can't lock themselves into the White House and only poke their heads out to meet with world leaders. And since they also can't walk around downtown NYC without protection, the only choice is that the American people fund their life.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  167. Curt in Atlanta

    The President going to NY for a date with his wife is a non issue to me. He's been working hard for us and I dont mind chipping in. His fans got to see him too and I think that's great. What gets me going is when presidents of either party use taxpayer dollars for fundraising...and Republicans as well as Democrats do

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  168. Dan

    I don't have a problem with the President and his wife enjoying an evening out but we the people should not have to pay for the portion that exceeded a normal outing in the DC area.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  169. Michelle

    Do we actually expect the President to sit in the White House and never enjoy himself? President Obama has worked very hard so far and he and the First Lady deserve and evening off. It's refreshing to see a couple with such a happy relationship. I think they are perfectly entitled to a nice evening out.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  170. Chris in Philadelphia

    yes. as long as he isn't doing this three times a week sure. he is president but also a husband. he should be able to take his wife out to dinner and a show.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  171. Scott

    The President is the President 24/7. So taxpayers pay. I don't recall other President's having their travel scrutinized for this. Former President Bush was in Texas often. I think it is legitimate. Most CEOs make more money and do this type of thing to the corporations they run. The Secret Service and media have to go where the President goes. Being the President has some perks and much responsibility.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  172. Stephanie, Annandale VA

    Many Presidents have spent taxpayer money on personal trips. Why is this trip all of the sudden newsworthy?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  173. David Penrose

    He's the President of the United States! He paid for his meal and entertainment. We, the U.S. taxpayer, paid to ensure our President was safely transported. What does the GOP expect, that our President take a commerical flight? Get real. Get on to debating important issues.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  174. Dave

    Why shouldn't the President go to NY City if he wants? At least he's working most of the time... He's been in office a bit over four months and hasn't had a vacation yet. I don't think his predecessor went four months without a vacation in his entire eight years in office! Oh, and NY City is closer to DC than Crawford, TX is... How many trips "home" did we pay for GW to take?

    I do wonder about the decision not to use Air Force One. There's a reason we pay for it... it would probably be better for the President to use it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  175. Sharon Maples

    For those of you who don't know, Pres. Obama, works or is on call 24-7. Why shouldn't he take his wife out for a little personal time.

    I am a Republican and see nothing wrong in what he did or who paid.
    I don't like everything he does but thats why we have different parties.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  176. TheRamones

    No....he is insensitive. Yes, other presidents have done the same and more (exception is the cheap Jimmy Carter).

    Obama is very insensitive to the poor in the USA. He has more sympathy for Africa. He was center attraction at a $30,000 plate dinner in LA, a city where thousands of people live under the freeway. Yo, Obama: how about you dine al fresco with these people?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  177. Brad Moss

    Dear Bill,

    This is all a bit non-sensical, but if you are going to present a holier than thou position on fiscal matters – you had better be willing to take a little criticism.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  178. Diane Schumacker

    How many times did we pay for W to go to Crawford to clear brush? Give the man a break. I find it refreshing that he wants to date his own wife.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  179. Linda Kay Foster

    I pay taxes and I'll fund his date. I funded plenty of security for the Texas White house. The guy needs a break just to stay human. He's covered more ground in three months than Bush did in his last year in office. Let's be nice.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  180. Kathy

    Just because we've done it in the past is no excuse for continuing it ... the same could be said for all the excesses of this world.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  181. Lynn - NC

    No, but who asked us. Our money has bought banks, deadbeats homeowners houses, chrysler and now government motors. President Obama seems to love spending others money and taking over private businesses. Why not go ahead and spend our money on regular Wed. night parties and long distance date nights. He seems to be having a better time since his election, than the American people. Oh, but I bet somehow this NY trip is all Bush's fault!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  182. Chelsie from Austin, TX

    Former Pres. George W. Bush spent all of his time in Crawford or going to and from. I am okay with a date night here and there. He spent his own money on the things that he was able to. “If Momma isn’t happy, then no one is happy!”

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  183. Jackie - Canada

    Give it up Americans! Give him a break. What the hell you'll complain about next?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  184. Brad

    Really, Jack? Normally I enjoy these, but today seems a little silly.

    We never asked if taxpayers should foot the bill for President Bush's many Air Force One jaunts to Texas.

    The reality is that being President is a 24-hr job. I'm willing to bet that he was in constant contact with White House political and security staff the entire time.

    The President doesn't take vacations, so they find time. I'm not offended, and there are more important things to talk about. We are talking about a wealthy couple with undoutbedly-stressful lives taking in a play. They're supposed to stay home and play canasta because the economy is not great?

    You're a public figure Jack, have you stopped leaving the house after work?

    Let's talk about things that matter – that really affect people. This is window dressing, and an example of everything wrong with cable news.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  185. Peyman from Rockville, Maryland

    By becoming our President, Barack Obama (or any other person who became or will become President) gave up a normal person's freedoms. On one hand, people who run for President usually have large egos and have a special kind of personality. But on the flip side, these people sacrifice a lot to become the chief executive. For the sake of continuity in leadership and protection of our country's interests we must protect our Presidents from harm at any cost. If this means a secret service entourage and a marine one helicopter ride so that our President can have one vacation night in New York City, so be it. It's crazy to put the President's expenses under such a microscope as to question a night out with his wife. It's the least he deserves.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  186. larrywi

    Why not we pay all of his other spending. Casey Fulford says that Obama is cleaning up a war, he sure is and putting us right amck in the middle of another one. Guess he wants his name associated with a failing effort as well. Won't be long before he too will be reflecting on how the people used to like him!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  187. Jared B.

    Get over it people! Our President went to an American City, saw an American play, and did so with a few American dollars...during a time when we need something else to talk about other than doom and gloom. The same critics will complain that he is all work and no play like our last president...oops...my mistake, that was another guy.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  188. Pam

    For what WE paid to fly everyone to New York for this event, the Obamas could have flown the entire cast of the play to DC and probably saved some money. Considering the verbal blasting of all the CEOs in the nation and their 'spending habits' , this was over the top. I don't at all begrudge the Obamas their date night, but doesn't 'fiscally conservative during these tough times' mean anything? Either they could have waited until it was necessary for Obama to be in New York and combined the trip, or stayed home and enjoyed something a bit closer to home. I have NO problem paying for him to be where he needs to be, but a HUGE problem paying for him to enjoy a particular lifestyle.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  189. Jessica, in Michigan

    It's a tough one, because on one hand we wont to say NO – PINCH THE PENNIES LIKE WE HAVE TO!

    on the other hand, we have to be realistic and realize EVERY SINGLE PRESIDENT has gone on "excursions" of one form or another, that cost us money either way.

    It seems the extra 2 planes for staff and media is stupid, why cant they take commercial flights? Or taken the train?

    Or maybe Obama could have piggied a trip to NYC with business, and also took his wife on a date?

    And anyway you dice this one, THIS president will cost us more WHEREVER HE GOES because of heightened security, too many neo-nuts wanting to put a bullet into Obama.

    Maybe he could have thought this one through a little better?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  190. Gail

    Yes, we have paid for all our Presidents flights to and from vacations and trips to their ranches for barbecues. So if the President wants to go out to a show, we are responsible as citizens for his security. He paid for the tickets and show, so I have no problem with this. We should be complaining about the billions, possibley trillion dollars spent on a war we should not have engaged in. Let's not be petty, look at the big picture.

    Gail M. Albers
    Woodstock, Illinois

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  191. Cathy

    I think he has been putting in about 90 to 100 hours a week. His health and state of mind are an asset to this nation. Date night proves he is balanced. I like to think we all place enough value in this country to allow the President a night out. He can't choose not to take the costly entourage nor would we want him too.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm |
  192. cb

    Oh give me a break. The President is working constantly on a host of issues and problems. Mrs. Obama is constantly visiting schools and inspiring the students, as well as other constructive activities.

    What happened with GM is the result of many years of mismanagement and failed vision. One night out or in is not going to change that. As a taxpayer I am GLAD to treat President and Mrs. Obama to a night on Broadway.

    Where were all the complaints when Bush took Air Force One down to Texas and chopped weeds for most of his presidency??

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  193. Marvin

    Is it much different from Fmr. Pres. Bush spending a month at the ranch in Crawford or a Clinton vacation in Martha's Vineyard? There are huge security costs involved with that also. I'm sure a jumbo jet traveling from D.C. to Texas will use more fuel than a jet trip from D.C. to NYC. Let's be real– sometimes you have to get away from that "Washington bubble"– even if it is to to see a Broadway play and return to work soon after.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  194. Ted

    Much ado about nothing.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  195. Tracey

    Oh come on!! He's the President of the United States. What are they supposed to do, take the Chinatown bus to New York for a date? Gimme a break!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  196. Ralph


    just because he is the president doesn't mean he has to be locked up in a golden cage for 4 years. If the man wants to go do something fun with his wife, it is totally his prerogative.

    On the overall scale of things, a date night with his wife costs nothing compared to the other things that go on in this country. Nitpicking every little thing he spends some pocket change on is just politics from a Republican party that is slowly turning into the "Anti" Party.

    They're Anti-Everything ... try building a national platform on that?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  197. Jeff Mason

    Of course, yes. He is the President of the United States. He can't exactly get in a car and drive his wife to New York, or even fly in a commercial jet.

    How many times did the taxpayers pay to fly President Bush to Crawford, TX, and no one asked about that? President Obama is not going to Chicago on a regular basis...so it all seems even to me.

    This is really a petty question.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  198. Ross

    Doesn't seem like we should pick up the tab. It wasn't "official" Presidential business... he took his wife out on the town. We work hard all year and get a "stimulus" payment that might cover the cost of their dinner, let alone all the other expenses. He should definitely fit the bill and I think it's ridiculous to think taxpayers should.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  199. Chad Haren

    What a waste...places to eat and theatres in DC and he flies to New York on our dime...and he wants to tax the RICH???...he lives better than most "rich" people...and it doesn't come out of his pocket...i want to take my wife to New York for dinner and a play...can i use the Big Jet Mr. President???

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  200. greg haines

    I think Obama's travel to NYC required he take specific modes of transportation. I am sure he would of paid for the shuttle or the train if he could of and paid for it but its about the security and he needs some normal life time

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  201. Roy from Texas

    I think we should impeach Obama for apologizing to the world for who we are and opening classified documents so we can be mocked by the world. That said, he's the president and he should be able to take his wife out for a treat.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  202. Angela McRoy

    He is our president and I want him to be safe so if we the taxpayers fund their date night that's fine by me!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  203. John

    Well considering all the un-deserved vacations we paid for that Bush took during his 8 years I honestly dont feel to badly about paying for Obama's date night.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  204. Jan M. Hollis

    Of course the American taxpayer should pay for the Obama night out - this is socialism of/by/and for the elite. How embarrassing that you would even ask the question, Jack. Lemme see, we taxpayers gave him GM, the banks, and wall street - they cost far more than a piddly night out.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  205. Joyce

    Their plane was ok. They deserved it as he has had more than he planned for when he was elected. As for two other planes, why did the media need one and why staff. This was there night and I know they needed secret service but not "staff" or the media,

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  206. Joe

    Why did the media and staff need a separate plane? The media didn't have to tag along and the staff could have shared Obama's plane. And how many staff did he need to go on a date?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  207. Idris Gettridge

    I believe that it can be very difficult to separate personal from business for many executive positions, especially the President of a country. Is the President ever not on duty? Had a nuclear disaster broken out, would he have not had to put down his fork or Playbill to respond? For four (or 8) years, he is the President 24/7, and I dont think taxpayers should have too much of an issue over the selective use of certain fringe benefits.

    Oh yeah..I also think it's a bit refreshing to see the President visiting cities without speech or a rally to attend.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  208. Anne Marie Fitzgerald

    I don't recall any hue and cry when former President Bush took time to fly to Crawford Texas, at taxpayers' expense. In fact President Bush took more time off than any prior President including President Reagan. If President Obama prefers a Broadway show over cutting brush in Texas, I say that is his prerogative. He works very hard for this country and will soon be leaving his family to travel to the Middle East. And from the faces shown in the photos, his visit brought a real lift to many New Yorkers.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  209. Erin

    Since when did getting elected to the office of president mean that you were un-offically GROUNDED to the White House for 4 (or 8) years?

    Taxpayers didn't pay for the tickets.. didn't pay for he or Michelle's clothes. We didn't pay for anything other then his transportation – because as President, he can't exactly hop on Amtrak or Southwest for his weekend jaunt.

    We value the security of our President – and we understand that providing that security means that when he travels anywhere for business OR pleasure, he takes a government provided ride.

    Again, i'm searching for all of the articles about Bush and his bi-monthly trips to Crawford, TX.. and all of the outrage about that.. but of course, i'm coming up empty handed.

    On a day where Obama looks good by assisting the GM Bankruptcy, and many "pro-life" Republicans hands are somewhat dirty by applauding the death of Dr. Tiller.. it appears the "Obama took a trip.. look.. look" defense is all they have right now.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  210. Sean

    My taxpaying money goes to a lot worse things than this..... a perk such as this should go to the president. How about focusing on something that would actually make a difference.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  211. W.J. Chapman Jr.


    Seriously... He only gets paid $450 K for running this country, with all the crap that Mr. Obama has on his plate.... Take a nite off with your wife, I think we can afford it!

    Jack Chapman

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  212. celia

    Why not? The problem with the RNC and all those criticizing the President is that they are so short-sighted and they think the whole of America also is. Just imagine what the trip did to the the artistic community of New York and the US for that matter! A President who patronizes the art and does go and enjoy watching a play is the best ad the cultural community could have. Imagine how many artists will be benefited by this. Think long-term America. Besides, I'd rather like seeing them in their social activities rather than Limbaugh, Gingrich or any of the RNC and Fox pundits.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  213. MJ from Lincoln, NE

    So, because he is president, he should be required to give up all freedom and stay local?

    If he wasn't president, and chose to take his wife out for a special weekend to New York from Chicago, he would have paid for some plane tickets, and hotel, dinner and the show. I have no problem charging him the price of first class plane tickets in addition to his dinner and show tickets (they didn't stay in a hotel apparently) but I don't think he should be cooped up in D.C. just because that is where he works and lives.

    As for the media and staff – the media should be supporting their own trips, and the staff are required to enable him to remain in position as president. The staff charges are necessary and when used within reason, (i.e. this was a special treat, not a normal weekend occurance) it is certainly acceptable.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  214. Janice

    Of course we should pay for it. I wish I could pay twice! He's the leader of the free world. Without him the economy would be in shambles, the middle east would be on the verge of nuclear proliferation and the Koreas would be on the brink of war. We all have to make deep sacrifices in these trying times. He made his by only taking 3 small private jets instead of taking Airforce 1. Back off Jack!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  215. Mike

    Hell NO! Let him pay like everyone else!!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  216. Vince Fisher

    Yes, it's a lot easier than funding Bush's war. Maybe if Bush went on some dates he would not have needed to wage a war to bolster his ego.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  217. AJ.

    Yes. After 8 years of Bush flying back and forth to Crawford, TX (clear across the country), like his ranch was Camp David, I have no problem funding their travel.

    I think that it is nice to see a husband who keeps his promises and acknowledges his husbandly duties. They are setting an example for the rest of us.


    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  218. Kit


    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  219. Thom Richer

    Not worth asking and definitly not worth answering. Time for the media to grow up.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  220. Vicki, Halifax, NS

    Picking up the tab for Presidents' "dates" appears to be the norm - remember Lewinskygate? I think a Jetstream to the Big Apple is a deal in comparison.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  221. Brandon

    Oh why not. It would have been something good if BO had paid for it himself. I dont like it, but he is the President

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  222. Shena Medley

    Yes–him and Michelle deserve to do what they please. He did not take her to Paris for the night for God's sake!!! The only reason this is a big deal is bcause the media loves them and everything is under review...I'm sure he is not the first President to go out of his way to please his wife and to go on a nice date in another city....

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  223. Mark from Missouri

    Although I think it is excessive in these tough times for this trip, the taxpayers have borne these types of expenses for numerous Presidents I am sure. But I will say planes following with staff and the press, if taxpayer dollars went to these as I assume they did, is completely wasteful and someone should lose their job for it, even if it is the President who decided he needed staff and press to go to a show. Personally I find this trip obscene after telling companies who take taxpayer funded bailouts not to go to Vegas-after all the Federal Government needs its own taxpayer bailout, doesn't it?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  224. Creola Moorer

    Why not? We paid for weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. At least we know that the Obama's enjoyed an evening out without destroying thousands of lives.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  225. aaron eaquinto

    I would just like to add that this is not about what BUSH did, it is about Obama, here and now. If we can't get over what Bush did as an excuse for any mistakes that Obama makes, that is a sad day for American citizens.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  226. cream

    AND she looked beautiful!!!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  227. Lawrence Ho


    The president should be paying the expense for flying to NY since he wants to cut the WHite House expense in the first place which he mention a few months ago.

    As a president , please show as a role model to the citizens you do care about this country economy by acting and not by talking.


    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  228. Jake

    It's fine by me. It's a high stress job and anyone who works in a stressful environment can tell you that you perform better when you are able to break away and spend some time with your family. I think it's money well spent and don't see what all the fuss is about. The president makes as much as the local bank president and I know he can't afford to charter a plane. So becaues we need him protected and he can't afford that protection on his own salary he shouldn't be allowed to enjoy a night out with his wife?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  229. Ron

    I think the President needs to lead by example, but using financial prudance. If he wants to take his wife on a date night, that is fine, but to go so out of control in terms of cost that the taxpayers will have to absorb is unacceptable at this point in our economic crisis. I personally feel like this entire tab should come from the President.

    I better financial times I don't think such an issue would be made, but this is all about Mr. Obama's promise of transparency. Let's see what our tab was for his date.

    On another note, now that WE own 60% of GM, does that mean I can walk into a dealer and pay only 40% of the sticker since I am already a 60% partner of theirs?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  230. LT

    Im confident if the secret service could find a secure means for them to travel that didn't come out of the taxpayers pocket then the Obama's would...I mean if they had thier own private jet that wouldn't cost the taxpayers anything, then someone would have something to say about that too. Just let the man enjoy a night out on the town with his wife.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  231. Mary

    well for god's sake yes. How many vacations to Crawford had Bush taken by this point and I don't remember a word being said about that.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  232. Chris

    Yes, we want our president protected in public. Really, is this even worth addressing? Nothing else to write about??

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  233. Kathy

    Family values as in a $24,000 date night? No wonder this country is in financial trouble. We all live through celebrities and their excesses.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  234. Tim

    My answer to you: Yes.

    Find something important to write about in future columns.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  235. Todd

    No, the taxpayers shouldn't be saddled with the bill, but he's the President. What options does he really have? Life doesn't stop just because he's the most powerful man in the world. An occasional date nite is okay. He's going to have a military escort in any case, so it's going to cost big bucks no matter how he travels – and being locked in a box for 4 years doesn't seem right.

    But it would be nice if the trip could have coincided with the country's business. I'm sure that could have been arranged. If it was just there and back for dinner and a show – definitely wrong.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  236. Kerry Daniel

    I believe the President should personally pay for all expenses associated with this trip - air travel for he and Michelle and their entourage included. We are a nation in crisis. Everyone is struggling right now just to meet everyday expenses in this terrible economy. In light of that, I am shocked at the Obamas' indiscretion and insensitivity.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  237. Ryan

    Oh c'mon! She said Broadway, not the Kennedy Center. Besides, how many times did W go to Crawford and who floated that bill? Hey, if the President pays for the dinner and tickets than no problem. Can't the man go out?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  238. Cheri

    Absolutely Not! This is a personal outing, not official business and the Obama's should pay for all expenses associated with a date night. It is rather arrogant to assume the taxpayers should pay for a date.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  239. Seth Dennis

    Their arrogance knows no bounds. They should have to pay for the entire trip out of their own pocket. I think his book sales would cover it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  240. Vegas baby

    I guess executives at companies who took TARP money can't go to Las Vegas but the President who gets his salary paid by tax dollars can go to New York for dinner and a show on a private jet.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  241. Calmdown

    Um Yes. Funded Bush spending six weeks each year in Crawford... How many dozens of trips did he take there?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  242. Dee Hayward

    I think the President and First Lady deserve a night out in New York City. I think all of our Presidents have gone to many, many different places and often it looks as though the wining and dining are the main event. How far IS NYC from DC and so what and how is this any different from other first couples' trips? What about all of the Bush trips to Crawford? That is where they wanted to be a lot of the time and they got there, via taxpayer funds in Airforce One and helicopter. Its no different, really. I think the press is being way over-sensitive about this, and so are you!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  243. Gina

    What's the problem? W vacationed all the time. Did he take commercial flights to Crawford? Or maybe he just drove his personal vehicle. People need to find something else to whine about.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  244. Jim Houston,Tx

    The US people have always picked up the tab for the president to move around the country. Even during wartime, we paid the tab. What is wrong with the Republicans and the gripping is they lost, and are trying to search for ways to discredit current president. Again, nitpicking about things of NO consequence with NO good alternative plans for moving this country forward.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  245. Charlie

    Yes I think the taxpayers should pick up the bill.

    This is part of the deal in my opinion. The president can never be a "normal" citizen again even after he is no longer in office. He will be the subject of media attention, public recognition, and armed security for the rest of his life. While the benefits are great for being president, the drawbacks can be great given your outlook.

    I for example wouldn't take that job nomatter how much power and money I received, I value privacy too much...

    So given that. The least we as taxpayers can do is pick up the tab while he is still in office.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  246. Jean-Texas

    Jack can you say Crawford Ranch in Texas? The Shrub was in Texas as much if not more than he was in DC, and the taxpayer got socked for every penny. Trip to New York? Drop in the Bucket when you compare it to the previous administrations travels.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  247. Cynthia P. in Texas

    Why not? This is our first family. It's never been a question when other presidents held fancy celebrations or similar acts so why are we questioning President Obama?
    Come on now – there are bigger fish to fry!!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  248. Shirley

    Come on Jack-is he supposed to drive his personal vehicle to dinner and the theatre and leave behind the Secret Service?? Also, can you begrude him for wanting to get outside the Washington bubble!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  249. Wendy Williams

    Why shouldn't we pick up the tab. Other presidents used airplanes to take them to their home states, so they choose to go on a date to NYC instead of Chicago, big deal. Kudos to the President and First Lady

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  250. Edward Hethel

    Taxpayers pick up the tab for anything a president in office does – this is extremely small potatoes compared to what the taxpayers have done for presidents past.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  251. stephen postullo

    i dont know what all the fuss is about jack. pleanty of other presidents have done similar things. and i find it ironic that the republicans are saying how can he do this with the economy so bad. meanwhile they just rubber stamped every spending bill george bush sent to congress. my question to you jack.. shouldnt you be asking a more relevent question...

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  252. Joe

    He needs to blow off some steam too! Yes at all our expense!! He's the President for crying out loud. What do people want him to drive to New York!! Yeah I could see it now. President and 1st Lady killed on I-95 because America too cheap to pay for it!! Get a life!!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  253. Leonard

    He is a human being and an American. He should be allowed to go take his wife on a date in New York and go see a Broadway show just like everyone else. It's not his fault that he can't just hop on a Megabus. I think the cocoon that our presidents have built around themselves is ridiculous. I don't mind paying for whatever he needs to live as normal a life as possible. Keep on dating!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  254. Robert Katz

    no way!
    I was a fan until now....

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  255. Trueman, Ontario, Canada

    How many times did "W" go on vacation during his first year? Who paid for that? The world's most expensive brush clearing. Obama has been going strong from day 1, with no breaks. Why don't the Republicans go back to calling Sotomayor a racist and renaming the Democratic party, and cut the guy some slack?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  256. Larry

    Hey look, the prez works 24/7 usually.
    So Yes, he gets it.
    The news media is creating news again, causing another rift.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  257. MWC

    Seems a pretty exrtravegant date night, I usually just pop for a dinner and a movie, that are in my own town. For all his bashing of Wall Street bonuses and big shots, this sounds like something that Dennis Kozlowski would do.

    Since he is probably going to be flush with campaign contributions from the UAW, since he just handed them GM and Chrysler, I would think he should be able to reimburse the Air Force and Marines for the cost of the trip.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  258. Ivan T.

    My wife & I go out, but no one pays our way – we use our own money. This is a very poor example to set as a leader, but a typical one we get from them.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  259. Esther

    For peace sake, he is the president of the United States. It is only news because he is the first black president. You people think he is trying to pull something over on you. Lay off him. What ever he does we are surpose to pay for it.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  260. Pat, Pa.

    Why not ? it covered all of Bush’s trips to Texas. The man is entitled to have time off. The press just keeps ” harping ” on everything this man does. Where were they whenever Bush went to Crawford ? Why did we need a press plane ? Why don’t they just leave him the hell alone once in awhile.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  261. Paul

    Jack...I don't mind paying the cost of the Presidents travels for official business, but for a night out on the town? Come on! It must be nice to have the open check books of the American taxpayer to pay for your date.

    Saint Mary's PA

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  262. Joseph Billingsley

    Yes the President and his beautiful bride have my support in a night on the town in NY City. Way to go Mr. President. I still take my lady friends out on a date in this recession. I'm blessed to still have a job.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  263. rory

    Yes. We all know R&R increases productivity, and the country needs the president to be in tip-top form.

    Grand Rapids, MI

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  264. Can't believe this is the topic of the day...

    By nature of his job, he will have to have secret service and staff with him. If he would have demanded no one travel with him he would have been accused of taking too much risk or being ill prepared for an emergency. To say the President is not allowed to take an evening and spend it with his wife is preposterous.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  265. Richard - Minneapolis, MN

    Yes! How many trips to Crawford and Florida and California that were vacations and personal for Nixon, Reagan, Carter, (GA), Clinton (AR) etc, were there that the taxpayers took care of? At least, Mr. Obama tried to minimize the coast with a smaller plane. (Didn't we even construct a runway to accommodate Bush's flights to Crawford?)

    He should be allowed to have a life and we should be willing to make it possible.

    YES! Pay for the man's date!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  266. steve Yarborough

    I'm no fan of Obama having voted for McCain in the last election. It seems to me though if he wants to lead a somewhat "regular life" and that means attending soccer games of his children, going out to eat and the theater or to a movie with his wife he should be allowed to do that. People need to realize that logistically it's just a lot more difficult moving the President from point a to point. It also is very expensive as well, but in the grand scheme of things folks should just lighten up and let him be as normal as he can be

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  267. m

    No way – this guy needs to think before he acts. I am outraged that my tax payer money will be paying for this. he has plenty of money, he should pick up the tab for the ENTIRE trip.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  268. Kenny

    Personally I think that it's important for the American people to see the President and the First Lady out enjoying themselves every once in a while. It's leadership by example and they are human too. A large portion of what is wrong with our economy is that people are afraid to spend any money and to get back to living their lives.

    I just read a story on CNN.com that said people are getting very tired of being cooped up in their homes and with being frugal with every penny. So I think that this can send a very positive message to the rest of us that the world is not over, and that we have to get out and enjoy our lives a little. Its probably the best thing we can do to help the economy. And what about those people who work in restaurants and on Broadway... I'm sure they appreciated the support and the message as well.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  269. gerda ceman

    I am VERY happy to hear that President Obama
    took the First Lady to a Broadway Show. Who wants
    to be stuck in the White House 24/7. They need a break
    from the daily routine just like everybody else.
    Gerda Ceman
    Sun Lakes, AZ

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  270. Todd

    When executives of private companies take the company plane for personal use, they are required to report the fair market value of the plane service to the IRS as income on their IRS Form 1040s. Will President Obama report the value of his plane and helicopter rides? I would hope the answer is yes, but with tax-cheat Timothy Geitner advising the President, I fear the answer will be no.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  271. Christine Michelle

    Absolutely NOT! We have an economic crisis going on, children going to bed hungry across the US and more and more US citizens are homeless and this is how we spend money! Was he not part of those who were making fun of the money that was spent on Sarah Palin's clothes. I bet more was spend between gas, security, extra police officers being used to block streets etc, than was spent on her clothes.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  272. gracie

    Excuse me? He is our President and has certain protocols to adhere to which means money being spent on him no matter where he goes and what he does. It's all part of the package of being a democracy with an elected president. You don't think Mr. Bush did the same? And Mr. Clinton before? Stop wasting time trying to get us angry about things we shouldn't care about and trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  273. John in NC

    No, they shouldn't. Hey, I voted for Obama, and I stand behind him, but I do think it's a bit beyond the pale to expect tax payers to pay for a night on the town fulfilling a "campaign promise" to see a broad way show. Especially when so many of us are hurting right now, losing our jobs, our homes, etc. It's inappropriate, and he can more than afford it. I hope that he has the good graces to reimburse the government for the expenses.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  274. Maria

    My answer to this question is a question. Have we, the taxpayers, typically paid for such personal outtings? If so, this is a non issue. If not, than we need to establish a limit at the taxpayers' expense for such dates.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  275. Megan, San Diego, CA

    With the amount of stress the President is under cleaning up the messes of the Bush era, I am happy to contribute a few bucks so he can SAFELY go out for a relaxing night with his wife.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  276. Roy Cohen, Houston TX

    You're darn right we should pay for it. Just how many jaunts did George W Bush take to Crawford in a military 747 by way of either Austin or Waco's airport over 8 years? How many trips did Ronald Reagan take to Los Angeles over 8 years?

    How would you like to live your life with the serious responsibilities of President of the United States and be under virtual house arrest inside a mansion all day and all night? He lives there. He works there. Due to the world around him he has no privacy, cannot travel or move locally in obsurity, and there is potential danger all around him to his personal being.

    Furthermore, Presidents have only limited say in HOW they travel due to security restrictions. The US Secret Service wins out 95 times out of 100 when security issues are on the table. He was NOT allowed to fly commercially.

    Going to NYC for a show, a speech, a dinner–it is a well-deserved perk of the US Presidency.

    Anybody questioning this is just being asinine. Some people didn't get the memo in November. Obama won.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  277. sal

    of course we should. What does it amount to? Less than 1 penny a taxpayer.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  278. Truth Hurts

    The President and the FIrst Lady deserve to have a night out. With everything that's been going on, the president is taking it all in, and handeling it. The first President that I can recall that is maintaining, and balancing his entire life. He also understands that he is a husband, father, and President. CEO's, and other leaders have somewhat spending accounts. I think our President deserves to have a little. It's more than a date. Look at the impact it has on promoting a relationship between, a husband and wife. This is good....at least he's not sneaking.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  279. Stuart Briscoe

    Ask the same question and insert any other government official and the answer would be an automatic "No". Why should it be any different for this elected official?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  280. mark sherrill

    He sure is working hard, so why not. It makes more sense than a two week excursion to Crawford, Texas, or a million dollar bonus for managing a failed company.


    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  281. Jessica, in Michigan

    Chris R – how were you making 100K last year, and you have ZERO in your bank account? thats your fault...not anyone elses.

    perhaps this is more whats wrong with america, and why we are financially in trouble...people making 100K cant figure out how to build up a savings???

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  282. Donnie, Richmond Virginia

    To rationalize this waste of taxpayer dollars by saying that the last president wasted more money is like someone saying that its okay for someone to sexually harrass an employee because the last boss sexually harassed the entire staff. Both are bad, just varying degrees. The president should know better, but it is obvious that he has become very enamored with his new lifestyle.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  283. Luke, Loveland Ohio

    How far we have come from complaining about auto exec's begging for a bailout while at the same time using private planes to fly to DC. How unfortunate for those executives they didn't have Obama's media fan club to defend themselves with.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  284. Derek

    If he wasn't the President, I am sure he would have driven, taken the subway whatever. The fact is, he is the President, as such greater security is taken and his choices are limited.

    But they are entitled to a night out every now and again.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  285. Melody Branner

    Goodness YES. When did the american taxpayers ever not pick up a bill for a date night for a President & his wife. The night out gave us all something to read about and discuss.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  286. Darrell O'Connor

    If the Republican's are so concerned with President Obama's social calendar, do they happen to remember where President Lincoln was assassinated?

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  287. Tice - Chicago

    Chris if you made 100k plus a year ago and cannot afford McDonald's today then you were living way outside of your means. I don't mean to be insensitive but if I made 100,000 for 5 years I'd likely never have to worry about money again. The amount of people making 6 figures and living paycheck to paycheck is astounding and if you're doing that bad you may have been one of them.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  288. Voter

    No, the Obamas should pay for this themselves. The country is in a recession, we are struggling and the last thing we need is to pay for the Obama's night out.

    Yes, Obama paid for dinner and the tickets, but he should pay for the staff, the security, all that was needed to keep him safe while on a date.

    We are in a recession!!!! It is a waste of taxpayers' funds to pay for planes, security, etc, so the Obamas can go on a date! Is this why he wanted to get elected? To show the nation how he and his wife go on dates? Or is he really serious about fixing the RECESSSION?

    For those who talk about Bush doing the same, here is a reminder of Obama's promise during the campaign: NO MORE of the SAME.... well where did that promise go?

    We are in a RECESSION, people and companies are filing for BANKRUPTCY, many people are homeless, many don't have food to eat, and we see the Obama's going on a fancy date at taxpayers' expense? NOO!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  289. Gretchen

    Obviously they can't fly commercial, but one additional thing he could do is pay back the government for the equivalent of 2 commercial tickets to NYC from DC. But sheesh with the publicity the restaurant and the show received, he should have been able to get free seats and a free meal, even though I know they did pay out of their own pocket for that.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  290. Mark Groenstein

    The taxpayers should pay. I'm a Republican but the President of the United States doesn't stop being human just because he's the President. Sounds like he paid for the things he should pay for and that's that. As much a I disagree with a lot of his policies I still support him as my President. That's a hard thing for a lot of people to embrace nowadays, no matter what party affiliation you have.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  291. Shawn

    So what, next we will hear about how the president uses the bathroom on taxpayers dollars.I think we have more urgent problems, hint GM.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  292. Dean Gamble

    Absolutely in no way should we pay for President Obama's date. He has a position, of which we all are aware of, which is by far the most powerful in the world.

    Given that, he should not be given stipends of that nature, but then, I feel the same way about any other CEO who works with either taxpayer dollars or investors dollars. We, the working stiff must pay for all of our own dates.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  293. John

    heck yes we paid for cheney to shoot a lawyer why not pay for some romance, and to keep our great president and first lady safe.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  294. Jeff

    This guy is raping the tax payer every which way. So why does this stunt surprise anyone.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  295. DL Benner

    Hmmmmmmm lets see. How about YES. Good lord, even the President and the First Lady have to have some time together, it is still called a marriage. Tax money...how else are they going to go out? Seriously, think about it. They can't just run from the secret service or call Enterprise for a pickup. Their lives are kind of tied up right now, you know with running a country and trying to get us out of trouble. We should all probably make date nights.
    Thompsons Station, TN

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  296. Matt

    We paid for Bush to vacation nearly 40% of his two term presidency. We picked up the tab for all of his travels to and from the ranch. No one said boo.

    Obama has WORKED 7 days a week since January 20th. Having some time off to decompress is GOOD for the President, which is good for the Nation. I'll gladly pay the few cents for this one, and any others he cares to take in the future.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  297. Elvis - andy H.

    Look what we funded and paid for when Bill Clinton was President.
    At least this guy is out with his own wife!

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  298. Marian

    Please stop the madness about President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama having a “date night”. As a citizen of New Orleans, Bush accomplishments were below average and his actions were far worse. President Obama and First lady Michelle Obama have their own money that was earned through hard work. Yes, they do deserve a “date night”. This is no different for us as taxpayers paying for a war we do not agree with or have any strong merit.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  299. Mark Collins

    Ronald Reagan once spent $246,000 on a week end with Nancy in Barbados (or some island destination) that we tax payers paid for...when San Donaldson asked him about it at his next news conference Reagan said "Well, it was Easter!".

    I think we can foot a date to NYC.

    June 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm |