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Purported cost of Asia trip 'wildly inflated,' White House says

A news agency in India reported Obama's travel would run U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day.

November 06, 2010|Tribune Washington Bureau

President Obama's trip to Asia and South Asia has drawn unusual and apparently erroneous criticism that the visit will cost taxpayers $200 million a day.

The apparent source of the figure is a Nov. 2 report by the Press Trust of India, a news agency that quoted a single, unnamed Indian official in Maharashtra state. No other news organization appears to have corroborated the figure.

The White House does not discuss costs or security measures for presidential trips but said the numbers "have no basis in reality" and were "wildly inflated."

FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, also concluded this week that the report was erroneous, noting that $200 million a day exceeds public estimates of the costs of the war in Afghanistan, which are about $190 million a day.

"Given the dubious source of this assertion, the fact that the claimed cost exceeds the cost of a war, the flat denial by the White House and the lack of any evidence to support the claim, we'll classify this one as false," the group said.

Obama is traveling to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. His stop in India will be the first visit by a U.S. president since the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

The State Dept. on Aug. 12 warned of "a continuing threat of terrorism" in India.

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