The following editorial appeared Thursday in the Washington Post:
The decision to drop White House tours had a whiff of what's known as Washington Monument syndrome. When government is facing cuts, officials go after the services most visible and appreciated by the public. The pushback of bureaucratic hostage-taking is a proper comeuppance.
The popular tours have been suspended in response to the across-the-board spending cuts of $85 billion. The decision - coming just as the tourist season revs up - prompted an immediate outcry. Disappointed tourists took to Facebook and the airwaves to register their displeasure, while congressional Republicans and conservative commentators pounced.
Administration officials, the Post reported, said the Secret Service made the decision, estimating a savings of $74,000 in weekly overtime costs. Why overtime is needed for the self-guided tours plotted out in advance is anybody's guess.
Is the $2 million in estimated savings through September worth shutting Americans out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?
Apparently the president doesn't think so. In an interview Wednesday with ABC News, President Obama said he's talking with the Secret Service about restoring some visits, citing in particular long-planned visits by school groups. "Can we make sure that kids, potentially, can still come to tour?" he asked.
Well, he's the one in the house, and he has the authority to provide the answer.