Because the General Services Administration (GSA) keeps track of the government equipment, we know that the Obama Administration almost doubled the number of limousines in the federal fleet over the number during the Bush Administration’s final year (412 in 2010 compared to 238 in 2008). According to various news sources, most of the increase occurred immediately after President Obama took office and his first year, during 2009. For instance, Vice President Joe Biden gave up his daily train commute to enjoy door to door limo service to and from the West Wing of the White House.
I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised that political appointees — who used to be considered public servants — want celebrity treatment complete with limo and driver, but during a time of fiscal crisis it seems inappropriate for the federal budget to include payment for a 73 percent increase in limos to transport White House Czars and other administration or foreign dignitaries around town. In fact, the majority of the limos belong to the State Department for their bigwigs and special diplomatic guests. Each extravagant limo comes with a price tag of over $60,000 for a total of more than $10 million — and that doesn’t count the extra items like sirens, armor, and the ability to conduct undercover surveillance. There are even specially equipped limousines for countries “where they drive on the other side of the road.” Not surprisingly, all these behemoths together use “a huge 963,000 gallons of fuel a day” [emphasis mine].
Yet, just before news about the increase in the number of limousines became known, the President had the gall to send out an executive order for agencies to increase the fuel efficiency of the federal fleets. This is yet another example of the prevalent “do as I say, not as I do” attitude of the current administration.
Like many other justifications for excessive government spending, the administration claims that the limos are needed because of “increased threat to diplomats” and as protection against “high threat environments.” If that is the case, they need to explain why the number of limos for the Department of Homeland Security has decreased.
As complaints about this latest extravagance rolled in, the GSA spokesperson furiously backpedaled by saying that “their figures might not be accurate.” After all, she added, the term “limousine” is not clearly defined!