After spending the majority of his weekends as president at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Florida, President Donald Trump will be visiting his home state of New York during the first weekend of May. However, instead of staying in his Trump Tower apartment in Manhattan, the president will be at another one of his properties: the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. In doing so, he would like taxpayers to know he is actually saving them money:
Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be working out of my home in Bedminster, N.J. this weekend. Also saves country money!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2017
In an interview with Fox News, Trump rationalized his trip to Bedminster in a way similar to how he’s defended other weekend trips to his own properties: by pointing to the even more extravagant costs he could be accruing if he’d stayed elsewhere. “I love New York,” he said, “but going back is very expensive for the country because they close up Fifth Avenue and they close up 56th Street.” On the other hand, he said, when he travels to New Jersey, “I have a place there that costs almost nothing because it’s hundreds of acres and security and they don’t have to close up streets.”
Trump’s logic is like that of an eager shopper who justifies his or her expenses by pointing to how much more he or she could have spent had their purchases not been on sale. He’s saving money, but only compared to the much larger expenses he could theoretically be racking up. Of course, any additional expense at all is a cost to taxpayers: There’s no discernible advantage to Trump working out of Bedminster instead of, say, the taxpayer-funded mansion in Washington, D.C., that he occupies for most of the week; each time he leaves the city, taxpayers incur expenses for the security detail that must travel with him. There are, of course, plenty of good reasons for a president to leave the White House; it’s just that the supposed cost-savings (plus avoiding the disruption in New York) don’t justify traveling to New Jersey for the weekend.