The possibility of a congressional compromise on Bush-era tax cuts could delay the first family’s annual Christmas vacation to President Barack Obama’s Honolulu hometown.
The Obama family has spent the past two Christmases on Oahu — once when Obama was president-elect and once as commander in chief — and had planned this year to leave Washington for Honolulu on Dec. 18.
But CNN, citing two unidentified senior administration officials, reported yesterday that Obama is considering delaying the start of his trip to work out a deal with congressional Republicans on the Bush tax cuts that expire Dec. 31.
CNN quoted the aides as saying that Obama is willing to stay in Washington until Christmas Eve if necessary to finish the contentious debate over taxes.
But CNN also said senior Republican aides scoffed at the idea that a tax cut deal could not be worked out before Dec. 17, suggesting that White House talk of a vacation delay might be a negotiating ploy to push Republicans into a compromise, since they too have vacations planned.
The first family waited last year until the Senate passed health care reform legislation on Christmas Eve before flying to Honolulu.
On the two previous family vacations, the Obamas stayed in a five-bedroom, 5 1/2 -bath beachfront estate on Kailuana Place in Kailua that has since become known as Obama’s "Winter White House."
But this year the nearly 4,900-square-foot estate was bought for about $6.9 million by a Maryland company managed by a nephew of Hawaii real estate baron Harry Weinberg: Glenn Weinberg of Owings Mills, Md., and his wife, Debra.
So it is unclear whether the Obamas will vacation in Kailua again.
While Obama stayed close to nearby Marine Corps Base Hawaii as commander in chief, both vacations have followed similar itineraries: early morning workouts at the Marines’ Semper Fit gym; Christmas Day visits with Marines at the base’s Anderson Hall; trips to Sea Life Park in Waimanalo, Hanauma Bay and the North Shore; dinner at Alan Wong’s Restaurant; shave ice at Island Snow in Kailua; and pickup basketball games and rounds of golf for the president.
During the Obamas’ 10-day vacation last year, the family also enjoyed a private sunset tour of the Honolulu Zoo and made a stop at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, where the ashes of Obama’s maternal grandfather — Army Sgt. Stanley Dunham — are inurned.
The Honolulu Police Department spent $248,000 in overtime to help protect the first family last year — more than twice the overtime cost of protecting Obama when he visited as president-elect in 2008.