It’s grimly amusing to note that Barack Obama’s “gifts” and personal appearances perfectly capture the overall theme of his presidency: you can’t afford to accept what he wants to “give” you.
Case in point: the President’s campaign has a habit of sticking local governments with the exorbitant cost of security for his campaign visits. One such “lucky” town was Durham, New Hampshire, which found itself facing “an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 in fire and police public safety services required by the Secret Service,” according to the local Foster’s Daily Democrat.
Since this was a campaign stop, without even the thin pretense of “official duties” Obama employs to stick taxpayers with the travel and security costs of his endless fundraisers, the town decided to ask Obama’s re-election campaign for reimbursement.
In response, they got a steaming plate of nothing from Obama For America, which haughtily informed Durham that it “does not participate in security planning. All such decisions, including their impact on costs incurred by federal, state or local governments, are exclusively within the control of the appropriate government officials. Should there be a question about expenses among the cooperating authorities, we assume that it should be directed to the U.S. Secret Service.”
The President, you see, is accustomed to enjoying the hospitality of filthy rich crony capitalists and Hollywood stars, not small towns that would exhaust a significant portion of their annual budgets to cover the cost of a single visit from the immense royal entourage. The town council briefly considered “disinviting” the President, but it was pointed out that they hadn’t really “invited” him in the first place. If your small town wins the booby prize of an Obama visit, there’s not much you can do except grin and raise taxes to pay for it.
Fortunately for the Durham town council, “an anonymous donor stepped in to provide $20,000 to the town in additional public safety costs” to cover the cost of Obama’s visit. It would be absolutely hilarious if the anonymous donor turns out to be Mitt Romney.
It’s bad enough to have President Obama roll into your town for a campaign speech, but it’s far worse to win dinner with him. The Obama campaign has long sponsored raffles to win “Dinner With Barack,” strongly encouraging (but, for legal reasons, not absolutely requiring) a $3.00 donation from contestants. Airfare to whichever small town happens to be buried under the President’s motorcade at the moment is included.
Blogger William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection decided to read the fine print on this prize package, and discovered that the lucky winner is responsible for paying “all federal, state, and local taxes” associated with “receipt or use” of the prize. The IRS regards such prizes as fully taxable income, and the full prize package with airfare and hotel accommodations is worth an estimated $1600. Depending on which state the winner lives in, that could work out to a five hundred dollar tax bill.
I wonder if the “winners” of this contest are told about their full tax liability before they receive their prize. Under the philosophy of Obamanomics, it would be an unpleasant surprise for someone else’s children, which they learned about many years later, when they were expected to pay the bill with interest.