The Secret Service is running out of money

WHAT IT IS

  • The United States Secret Service is having money troubles.
  • The Service will hit its federally mandated cap on salaries and overtime at the end of September, and will, consequently, be unable to protect the President and his family starting Sept. 30.

WHY IT MATTERS

The declining budget for the Secret Service illuminates a few problems. First, President Trump’s trips to Mar-A-Lago cost taxpayers around $3.6 million each time. These trips, of course, involve his Secret Service unit. For the President, the costs come with an additional perk: money flows into his own pocket. Trump’s travel to his properties, Mar-A-Lago included, are trailed by a press corps producing images to the world to allow the official business of the presidency to double as marketing opportunities for his brand. Conflict of interest?

  • ITS NOT HIS FAULT…

    • Not the first:   The Secret service in recent years has frequently received congressional permission to exceed the overtime salary cap. This occurred as recently as 2016 during the last year of the Obama administration.
    • More people, more problems:   The agency’s predicament has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo.
    • Congress should act:   The overtime issue won’t be fixed until Congress passes a permanent fix. The Secret Service is asking Congress to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents by $30,000 for the remainder of Trump’s term, but even if a proposal like this is passed, 130 veteran agents will still not be compensated.
  • … BUT IT KIND OF IS

    • More people, more problems, part II:   The agency’s workload for security personnel has grown under President Trump. The Service now protects 42 people around the clock, 11 more than it did under Obama. This includes 18 members of the President’s family.
    • Hot child in the city:   First lady Melania Trump stayed behind in New York City with Barron for the first five months of Trump’s presidency, requiring extra security at Trump Tower.
    • Globetrotting has a cost:   The spending limits are supposed to last through December, but the cost of protecting the president and his family on their travels has strained the Secret Service, local governments, and the Coast Guard.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

  • If congress doesn’t lift the cap, a third of the agency’s agents (roughly 1,100) will be working overtime without being paid.
  • The Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year to protect the Trump entourage.
  • Half of the additional money, $26 million, is budgeted to protect his family and private home in New York’s Trump Tower, and $33 million would be spent on travel costs.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • Can’t the President utilize Camp David?
  • Will the President’s travel habits make Congress less keen to remove the salary cap?
  • If the cap is removed, how will their be any limits to the President’s Secret Service costs?