Misplaced Priorities

Report: Obama spends more time on vacation, golf than economy

Barack Obama
Barack Obama / AP
• April 29, 2013 5:15 pm


President Barack Obama has spent more time on vacations and golf outings during his presidency than he has spent in meetings on the economy, according to a report released Sunday.

The Government Accountability Institute (GAI) combed official records to produce a report on how the president has allocated his time. It found Obama has spent only six hours in meetings on the economy so far this year.

The data "give the impression of a president who doesn’t look like he’s terribly serious about, or very well informed on, economic policies," wrote Nile Gardner, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

"The economy is the number one issue for the American people, yet President Obama appears more concerned with perfecting his golf swing than he does with advancing the prosperity of his own country," Gardner added.

The GAI gathered information from the official White House calendar, Politico’s presidential calendar, and media reports on the president’s activities.

The report finds Obama has spent only 474 hours in meetings on economic issues during his presidency, compared to 976 hours on vacation or the golf course.

Economic issues have remained at the top of Americans’ list of political priorities throughout Obama’s presidency but the time he spends in meetings on the issue has declined dramatically since taking office.

"Throughout 2009, President Obama had 140 days with economic meetings. By 2012, the number of days with a scheduled economic meeting decreased to 29 (a 79 percent decrease)," the GAI report found.

"People understand that presidents have the most stressful job in the world and need a break from time to time," GAI president Peter Schwiezer told

"There will be some who will be encouraged by the numbers and some who will wish the president spent more time in economic meetings. As a government watchdog group, we just tabulate the numbers and let others decide how to interpret them," Schwiezer added.

He also noted GAI’s methodology gives the president the benefit of the doubt in some areas. It only counts six hours of each vacation day as leisure time, for instance.

"Like most people, presidents still do work while on vacation," Schweizer said. "So we really went out of our way to fairly and accurately reflect how the president spends his time."

The GAI report was a follow-up to a similar report released in July 2012, which found the president "has spent less than 4 percent of his total time in economic meetings or briefings of any kind" since assuming office.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.