Since the 1950s, Presidents have been able to, by law and as a perk of retirement, have a survival bunker built at the taxpayer’s expense. Every president until Reagan, who said if the world was going out in a blaze of glory that he was going with it, had a modest bunker built by a company that regularly does government contract work. The Bush family has a bunker on every compound, Clinton’s library was designed with one and Trump hasn’t addressed the issue but one would have to assume he has a ticket to survive the end of the world.
Then there’s Obama. Being the con artist that he is, Obama took the law and did what he always did: figured out a way to abuse it:
A former President shall receive, along with lifetime Secret Service Protection, a bunker stocked with provisions for underground survival for 10 years. The bunker will be of the President’s design and will be built by the established government contractor with the lowest bid. The bunker should be adequate for the President to house his family and offer 20-double occupancy rooms to guests.
The bunker at the Clinton library was built to those specs and cost $1.2 million. The company that typically builds bunkers for the government said a comparable bunker for Obama and his family would have been $1.7, which is basically because of inflation.
But Obama wouldn’t hear of it. The aide who took down the specs said his exact words were, “it doesn’t say anything on there about cost, just about supplies and occupancy. I’ll have one of Michelle’s architecture friends draw us up something.” In the end, the Obamas ended up with a bunker just outside of the urban areas of Chicago built into the side of a hill on 400 acres of secluded land. The dimensions of the bunker itself including mechanical, storage, water reclamation, decontamination antechamber, entry and stairs and living quarters are just over 5 acres of underground palace. The living area alone is more than 12K square feet.
The cost to purchase the land and build just the shell with properly planned utilities ran close to $140 million. Once they added the finish to each area, furniture, carpets, decorations, appliances, supplies and electronics, the final number, billed to the taxpayer, came to $600 million. How did something like that get approved? It’s a recurring “discretionary” cost that is absorbed in the federal budget by any surpluses available elsewhere and borrowing the balance from China.
Here is why it cost so much. This is the entrance to the typical bunker: