With the 2016 U.S. Presidential election having dominated headlines for many months, many taxpaying U.S. citizens may be wondering exactly how much of their money goes toward protecting and caring for the President's family each day. The U.S. President, often considered the "leader of the free world," is one of the very most prominent figures in the world, and the citizens of the U.S. pay for protection for the President and the First Family through their tax dollars. But exactly how much money does it take to cover the associated expenses, and what exactly is required?
Perhaps the biggest concern for the President and the First Family, at least in terms of taxpayer dollars, is security. Due to the extremely high profile of virtually everyone in close connection with any sitting President, a huge team of secret service security agents must be employed at all times to protect the President and anyone in the President's immediate family. According to the Brookings Institution's Bradley Patterson, these expenses were among the largest for the Obama presidency. All told, the cost to taxpayers associated with running the White House under President Obama was approximately $1.4 billion per year.
Beyond constant security personnel, Presidents and their families also require huge numbers of non-security staff to manage everything from important matters of state to maintaining the White House to scheduling and much, much more. Salaries for all of these staff members are drawn from taxpayer dollars too. Among the most important staff for any sitting president are the team of doctors and other emergency specialists employed to accompany the president throughout all travel and other activities.
The cost of presidential travel must be covered by taxpayer funds as well. It is not uncommon for sitting U.S. presidents to travel via Air Force One many times per week, often multiple times per day. As with any private airplane, the costs associated with maintaining Air Force One and for travel are extensive, all the more so because the plane must be fully staffed and outfitted at virtually any hour of the day, depending upon the needs of the President.
A portion of taxpayer funds also go to providing various non-essential entertainment and luxury items that have come to be associated with the White House and the presidency. The staff at the White House includes cooks, event planners, staff for the in-house cinema, and more. When the presidential family brings a pet with them to the White House, the costs associated with the pet are also included in taxpayer bills, too. Though breakdowns of the exact cost of each of these expenses are difficult to come by, the total when taken together can be enormous.