The White House has been steadily undergoing a makeover since President Trump took office. But a new report from NBC places the price tag for the redecorating at $1.75 million dollars.
The Trump administration has not clarified where that money is coming from. Past presidential families who have exceeded the $100,000 fund usually allocated – including the Obamas, who spent $1.5 million redecorating, according to NBC – have paid for the redecoration out of their own pockets, through donations, or with funds from the White House Historical Association. As an old building that acquires a lot of wear and tear, the association says that upkeep and redesign is customary.
However, considering that President Trump has been dogged by allegations that he doesn’t make good on payments at least until pressed – such as to contractors or, recently, the family of a fallen soldier – the price tag has caused some raised eyebrows on social media.
Remember when socialist Obama paid for White House redecorating with his own money? Tax payers just got to pay for Trump’s lavishness.
— Fernando Espuelas (@EspuelasVox) August 26, 2017
According to NBC, a lot of what the money has been spent on is unclear, since the remodel covers extensive office space throughout the executive rooms. But some of the money has reportedly gone towards things like “furniture pedestals” and custom rugs.
With reupholstered couches and chairs and new drapes all in Trump’s favorite colors of gold and white, the Oval Office is looking decidedly more gilded than it did under President Obama.
And while there are no photos of the residences, if Donald and Melania’s Trump Tower apartment serves as a clue to their tastes, it should follow the same bling-tastic aesthetic.
Now, $1.75 million might sound like a hefty fee, but it’s actually a drop in the bucket of the estimated $3.65 trillion federal funds spent in 2017. Not to mention the $1.19 billion allocated for police and secret service protection for the Trump family when they travel or go on vacation (which is a lot).
The reported Trump redecoration spending is in line with recent past administrations as well. The Obamas spent $1.5 million on redecoration at this point in President Obama’s term. Adjusted for inflation, that comes to $1.7 million today, which is just $500k shy of the Trump budget. Back in 2010, the then-White House told USA Today that their redecorating funds were “in line with” the Bush and Clinton redesigns. However, the Obamas made a point of paying for the redesign out of pocket. A current White House spokesperson is reportedly looking into where the funds will be coming from from the Trump redesign.
The amount of money that past administrations have spent on White House refurbishing and restoration has varied greatly. In 1999, Congress raised the redecoration budget allotment from $50,000 to $100,000. But frequently – as was the case with the Obamas, Clintons, and Reagans, who all declined the congressional allotment – the funds came from personal accounts, donations, or the White House Historical Association.
So how does the Trump administration’s remodel stack up to the past work of design-savvy First Families?
The Trumps have barely put a dent in the money and work that Jackie Kennedy put in to the White House. Kennedy is famous for a full restoration and its accompanying video tour. The former first lady spent $2 million on the redesign in 1962 – which comes out to $16.4 million in 2017 dollars. In order to finance the project, Kennedy founded the White House Historical society and used proceeds from sales of the first official White House guidebook to bankroll the redesign.
The famously humble Carters did take it upon themselves to spruce up the place. But a 1978 article in the Washington Post reports that they did not exceed the then congressional budget of $50,000. If they had used all the available money, they would have spent $183,000 in 2017 scrill.
The Reagans also reportedly made a point to turn down the congressional allocation, and funded the $1 million that they spent on redecoration with their own money and donations. That comes to $2.84 million, adjusted for inflation.
Although the Obamas said that their spending was in line with the Clintons remodel funds, a November 1993 New York Times article reports that the Clintons spent around $400,000 on sprucing up the White House – around $670K today.
If the Bushes spent around the same amount, that means that a good chunk of their redecorating budget was eaten up by the $74,000 set of China purchased for the White House just before the end of President Bush’s second term.
All in all, the Trump White House redecoration spending does not seem to be outrageous. But hey, we’ve still got 3 (or 7) years to go.