Ever since 1829, when President Jackson became the nation's first chief executive to invite the public into the White House to celebrate his first inauguration, Americans have regarded the gracefully columned mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue as their house, too. Recent visitors are much better behaved than in Jackson's day, when people stood on upholstered chairs in muddy boots to catch a glimpse of the president. But that just makes getting locked out of the White House all the more painful.
And unnecessary. Federal agencies waste much more every day than the $74,000 the Secret Service spends weekly to supervise visitors on a self-guided tour of the White House's public rooms. And as Judicial Watch has reported, first lady Michelle Obama spent the equivalent of six weeks of White House tours on a single taxpayer-paid vacation to Spain in August 2010.
Last week, President Obama adopted the-buck-stops-over-there mentality, blaming Republicans and the Secret Service, in that order, for the tour cancellations. But tours of the U.S. Capitol were not suspended, and Obama press secretary Jay Carney was forced to admit the next day that the White House staff made the final decision to lock the doors starting March 9.
But Obama's political ploy to pressure congressional Republicans into agreeing to another tax hike has backfired. According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal spending will continue to increase at roughly 5 percent annually even after accounting for the full implementation of sequestration. Sequestration reduces federal spending by only $85 billion -- or a mere 3 percent of the total -- below projection.
The cancellation of the White House tours, which for many Americans are the highlight of a visit to the nation's capital, is political manipulation thinly disguised as cost-cutting. The White House exposed its ulterior motives when it refused billionaire Donald Trump's offer to pay for the tours himself. And as Fox News analyst Chris Stirewalt pointed out, Obama spent more than $74,000 just last Friday when he flew to Chicago to give a speech promoting more failed green energy subsidies.
Thousands of parents and children have been invited to the White House for the 135th Annual Easter Egg Roll, which the White House is now warning could be canceled. If it is, it becomes the second victim of Obama's political strategy on sequestration, after the public's access to the people's house.