Here is what an anonymous Indian official told the Press Trust of India on Tuesday: President Obama would be traveling to India with about 3,000 people, including Secret Service agents, government officials, and journalists at the cost of approximately $200 million a day. Here’s what the White House said about those “wildly inflated” figures: “The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality.” Other experts also chimed in. A former Los Angeles Times reporter who covered numerous foreign trips by U.S. presidents said the dollar amount sounded “inflated by a factor of 10,” the size of the entourage was “grossly inflated,” and pointed out that reporters would actually pay their own way. The Wall Street Journal called it “demonstrably incorrect.” FactCheck.org said the accuracy of the anonymous estimates were “highly doubtful,” pointing out that the cost of keeping 100,000 troops in Afghanistan costs $190 million per day.
Here’s where the GOP — and the Fox News pundits — went with it. Glenn Beck wondered if maybe we should have been worried about Obama’s Hindu connection, expressing distaste over “$2 billion for ten days so [Obama] can go see the festival of lights.” Sean Hannity pointed out that that sure was a lot of money to visit “one of the biggest mosques in Indonesia.” Michele Bachmann told Anderson Cooper, “I think it’s not a good signal to send to the American people, when the American people are, quite frankly, struggling right now with high job losses.” When Cooper pressed her on the inaccuracy of the figures she was quoting, Bachmann responded, “Well these are the numbers that have been coming out in the press.” Ah, yes, that historically trusting bond between the GOP and “the press.”