No, President Obama's trip is not going to cost $200 million a day.
That figure -- first thrown out by a single Indian media outlet and now viral on conservative talk radio -- is wildly off the mark.
The problem is that the costs for these trips are impossible to determine, for many of the president's expenses would be incurred whether he was visiting India or Atlanta or simply hanging around the White House. Obama's India trip starts an Asian swing that includes South Korea, Indonesia and Japan.
The administration isn't inclined to detail costs, most of which deal with security.
"The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. "Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."
To be sure, these trips do cost millions of dollars per day.
Whenever a president travels, he or she takes a mini-White House with them, from bulletproof limousines to gaggles of aides. This can come in awfully handy when trouble happens, such as the terrorist attacks on 9/11 when George W. Bush was in Florida. Ronald Reagan was traveling in Asia when the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Russia blew up in 1986.
Foreign trips are expensive but are a staple of presidential duties. India is a rising economy power. It is next to -- and has an intense rivalry with -- one of the world's most dangerous countries, Pakistan. It can be a counterweight to threats from China. Any president is going to deal with India.
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim majority nation. South Korea is the site of a G-20 global economic summit. Japan is hosting the annual Asian economic summit, which Obama's predecessors also attended. There's no evidence that Obama's team is spending any more money than its predecessors, taking inflation into account.
Yes, these gigs will cost money. But $200 million a day? Not even close.
One other thing to keep in mind: The Secret Service is not going to let anything happen to a president overseas if they can help it. They're going to do -- and spend -- whatever it takes. That's just a fact of life.
One last thing: The media organizations accompanying Obama will pay their own expenses.
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