President Barack Obama’s two-day visit to Argentina, where he tangoed and downplayed the differences between capitalism and communism, cost taxpayers nearly $1.4 million.
The president traveled to Argentina last week after his two-day stop in Cuba. The visit racked up substantial costs for hotels, transportation, and advance bathroom maintenance, according to government contracts signed by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security.
Transportation costs for journalists traveling with the president as part of the White House Correspondents Association totaled $141,794.
Finally, a contract signed March 9 for "repair and maintenance for pool bathrooms" for the president’s visit to Argentina cost $50,218.
Contracts for Obama’s visit to Cuba have not been made public, except for one worth $18,400 for "POTUS press credentials."
In all, taxpayers were billed $1,394,294 for the Argentina trip and press credentials in Cuba. One hotel contract was refunded, subtracting $1,926 from the total.
The president was widely criticized after he was photographed doing the tango in Buenos Aires just two days after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium. The attacks killed 32 people, including four Americans, and wounded over 300 others.
During the visit, Obama also apologized for America's role in Argentina’s "dirty war" in the 1970s and gave a less-than-ringing endorsement of capitalism in a speech to Argentinian youth.
"So often in the past there has been a division between left and right, between capitalists and communists or socialists, and especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate," the president said. "Oh, you know, you're a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you're some crazy communist that's going to take away everybody's property."
"Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works," Obama said. "You don’t have to worry about whether it really fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory. You should just decide what works," he added. "And I said this to President Castro in Cuba."
Obama then praised the communist country’s education and health care systems.