I think it’s Batshit Bachmann who’s tripping

From PolitiFact:

“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day.”

Michele Bachmann on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 in a CNN interview

Original DVD cover

To say this figure — $200 million a day — has made the rounds in the blogosphere would be a huge understatement. It has been repeated by nearly every conservative pundit in the land: Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, Drudge. Always with a healthy dose of indignation.

It also got picked up by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Nov. 3, 2010, it was just the latest example of government excess and spending from the Obama administration.

“The president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day,” Bachmann said. “He’s taking 2,000 people with him.

He will be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending. It’s a very small example, Anderson.


Again, $200 million a day sounds outrageous. But is it true?

The White House says, emphatically, that it’s not.


Cooper asked Bachmann how she came up with the number.

“These are the numbers that have been coming out in the press,” Bachmann said.

Actually it’s a figure that came from just one source, a news agency in India, relying on an anonymous source. It was then repeated thousands more times in the blogosphere and over conservative airwaves.

The claim that the U.S. would be spending “a whopping $200 million per day” on Obama’s visit to Mumbai, India, originated in a report from the news agency Press Trust of India. It was an estimate attributed anonymously to “a top official of the Maharashtra Government privy to the arrangements for the high-profile visit.” Maharashtra is a state located in western India.


Now it’s true that overseas travel by presidents can be expensive, said Kelley Gannon, who worked on the press advance team for George H. W. Bush and was director of press advance for George W. Bush. “You have to re-create a mini White House.”

But pegging an exact cost has long been an elusive task for news reporters.


An Air Force Times story on March 27, 2000, said Clinton’s trip to India and Pakistan “may be the most expensive such mission ever carried out by the Air Force.” The reporters said the operation required hundreds of aircraft missions. They tagged the cost of the 5-day trip at $50 million as well. That comes to $10 million per day.

Previous trips by the Clinton administration were less expensive, according to a September 1999 U.S. Government Accountability Office analysis of the costs for Clinton’s 1998 trips to Africa, Chile and China.


We couldn’t find any significant evidence that Obama’s 3-day trip to India was going to be unusual in scope.

According to Press Trust of India and the Times of India, two US Air Force Jumbos and four helicopters landed ahead of the president’s visit; and Obama will be protected by a fleet of 34 warships, including an aircraft carrier.


James Gerstenzang, a former reporter who covered numerous foreign trips by presidents for the Los Angeles Times, laughed at the $200 million a day figure, which he guessed was probably “inflated by a factor of 10.” And the claim about the entourage of 3,000 also seems grossly inflated, he said. He noted that any members of the press traveling with the president pay their own way, so that’s not a cost borne by taxpayers.

“It really bothers me when numbers like that get thrown around by both sides for political reasons, without it being backed up,” Gerstenzang said.

Veteran reporter David Jackson, who has traveled on a number of foreign trips by presidents, wrote for the USA Today, “No, President Obama’s trip is not going to cost $200 million a day.”


And basing the claim on an estimate from an anonymous state government official in India is dubious at best.

“I think you have to ask, ‘How would they know how much any of this costs?'” said Gannon, the advance press director under George W. Bush “We don’t share that with officials from foreign governments. I’d question where they got that number from. That does sound very inflated.”

As fact-checkers, we wish we had hard numbers from public documents to settle the issue of the cost of Obama’s trip to India. But they don’t exist. White House officials say details about foreign travel — including the cost — are not released for security reasons. So we don’t know the cost to taxpayers of Obama’s trip.

But we think Bachmann and others have a responsibility to back up statistics they cite. And in this case, the backing appears to be one news story, relying on an anonymous state government official in India. People familiar with presidential travel say that estimate is way off, and they question how a government official in India would know anyway. And a report by the independent GAO backs that up: A trip to India by Clinton, regarded at the time as perhaps the most expensive in history, was estimated to cost $50 million, or $10 million per day. That alone should cause someone to question the $200 million a day figure. In short, we don’t see any evidence to back up this statistic. And we rate Bachmann’s claim False.


Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Chimpy, CNN, Democrats, Fox News, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Glenn Beck, humor, Media, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

41 responses to “I think it’s Batshit Bachmann who’s tripping

  1. Passage to India is one of my favorite books!!! 🙂

    Here’s Bachman’s version of Obama’s entrance to India (which she probably thinks is Moslin) 😆

  2. jeb

    Cut Batshit some slack. It was on the interwebs so it must be true.

  3. I was going to type something funny, but I can’t come up with anything. I think I’ll have a drink instead.

  4. The only way the trip could possibly cost $200 million a day is if the travel budget were somehow picking up the costs of what NutMeg spent on failing to become Governor of California (well, it would take her a long time to earn that back in her new maid job).

    What’s with the M&M color scheme on the elephant? Elephant paint jobs can’t be cheap…..maybe that’s it.

  5. jean-philippe

    One heartwarming possibility about Bachman’s district:
    “Political Analyst Michael Barone said that this Congressional District could be eliminated as a part of redistricting due to the 2010 US Census and Minnesota losing one US House Seat.”

    Must be hard in Minessota to bear Bachman and the -30 winters.

    • let’s just hope that dayton will be declared the winner of the governor’s race. pawlenty said he’d stay in until there’s a resolution. i hope the rethugs don’t keep filing lawsuits to stall dayton’s being sworn in. i don’t know the makeup of the state legislature or how long it will take them to bring up redistricting, but i hope that the rethugs don’t rush everything through in order for pawlenty to approve what they came up with.

  6. Nons…I’m sorry I haven’t been here or commented in a long time, but I’ll be honest…I’m really fed up with the press and the GOP, and well, all of politics in general. I feel badly for our President who has worked tirelessly for America, but what does he get in return, BS thrown at him every single day, and what’s even more pathetic is that so many Americans believe all of it. It doesn’t seem like he’s got a chance any more. His vitality and enthusiasm are waning and I can’t blame him. He can’t win for losing. Any intelligent person would know you can’t fix the deep seated problems that were dealt him in just 18 months. No one has any patience anymore. It would have been interesting to see how much better we would have been today if McCain and Bimbo would have won.

    • no worries, jillsy. attendance is appreciated but not mandatory. 🙂 i think all of us are pretty disgusted. this is my way of dealing with it–ridiculing the idiocy.

  7. you know montezuma’s revenge – well i can only hope bachmann goes to india and gets ghandi’s revenge…..

    why o why does the press even give this complete piece of idiocy 2 seconds of time

    • she’s a cheap reality show, dcAp. why should reporters have to do some actual research and work for a living when they can chase this imbecile and get some juicy lies out of her? then, they can talk about what she said all day long so the pundits don’t have to do any real work either.

  8. Matzpen

    The Tea Party can only make it’s arguments by constantly lying like in this India trip case

    • hello matzpen,

      welcome to the raisin! 😀

      you’re absolutely right that the teabaggers constantly lie. the sad thing is that those not in the leadership don’t know that they’re lying. they’re just repeating something they heard over and over again on faux news. the sadder thing is that, eventually, they’re going to get kicked in their asses. they’ll lose their jobs, their benefits, and their homes, and the asswipes they voted for won’t be there to help them.

  9. Rep. Bachmann is expected to turn into a giant bat and suck the blood from small children.

    Granted, only crazy people expect her to do that, but it’s as honest as saying Pres. Obama is expected to do this, that, and the other thing.

    My latest question to lose me friends …

    “What’s the difference between what the Right is doing with this trip and bearing false witness?”

    Many members of the Religious Right don’t like it when you bring up the Bible, apparently …

  10. I remember hearing all the fuss about the 200 billion dollar a day trip. I understand there were 43 battlegroups required, many doing bombardment to soften up the Indian landscape, the fleets of planes darkening the sky to keep the sun off our dusky prez, the thousands of tanks rolling over the countryside clearing a path for the advance of trumpeters and dancing girls in veils to finally reveal 8,000 Nubian slaves draging the imperial ark that had been fashioned of republican gold of the finest quality. And they rented all the rooms at the Delhi Motel 6! I know this must be true because I read it on the internet.

    • even the safety patrols in elementary schools were called to duty to protect the president. so what if they’re 5th graders? when you’re small, you can crawl into small spaces looking for explosives.