A Bit Regal for a Recession? Obama Inauguration Allegedly To Run As Much As $170 Million

220px-barack_obamaimages3There has been little attention to a shocking figure placed on the Obama Inauguration: $170 Million. At a time of millions without work and a crumbling economy, it is fair to ask if spending that record amount of money sound the wrong signal to the country. One group, however, insists that this figure is inflated.

CNN is quoting a figure from Mayor Fenty that the city will spend $50 million. ABC is quoting $170 million. The New York Daily News reports that

The federal government has budgeted $49 million for this year’s inauguration, more than triple what taxpayers spent at Bush’s first inauguration in 2001, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Earlier this year, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland and the Washington transit authority sent a request to federal lawmakers for more than $75 million to cover a variety of inaugural costs ranging from security to transportation.

It is unclear why a solid figure or estimate is not clear at this point.

However, there is a host of expenditures by federal and district sources that need to be combined and it is not clear where the true figure might fall between $50 million and $170 million. For my tastes, both figures are disturbing. The actual swearing in ceremony will cost only around $1.2 million.

I realize that this is a bit much to ask for, but what if Obama had decided to forego the pageantry and given $100 million to the jobless. I was critical of the obscene amount spent on Bush ($40 million) and I am equally upset with this amount. I believe these balls and endless festivities tend to send the wrong message to our leaders: that they are regal, if not royal.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt held a modest ceremony during World War II and Franklin Pierce canceled the inaugural balls as frivolous expenditures.

Bush has declared an emergency for the District to funnel more money into the event.

These events are getting out of hand. There was a time when a president gave a speech, took a walk or ride in an open car, and went home. There were balls but few in number. Now, every president seems intent on out-doing his predecessor — as if proof of his mandate.

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29 thoughts on “A Bit Regal for a Recession? Obama Inauguration Allegedly To Run As Much As $170 Million”

  1. Whether it’s too high or low, I don’t plan to watch one minute of any of the pageantry. When the guy pisses everyone off in say, 8 months, you wish you would have not voted for him. You think things are bad now, just wait.

  2. Barry Obama hosting pricey party in a dicey economy

    By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer
    Sat Jan 17, 1:23 pm ET

    WASHINGTON – Unemployment is up. The stock market is down. Let’s party.

    The price tag for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration gala is expected to break records, with some estimates reaching as high as $150 million. Despite the bleak economy, however, Democrats who called on President George W. Bush to be frugal four years ago are issuing no such demands now that an inaugural weekend of rock concerts and star-studded parties has begun.

    Obama’s inaugural committee has raised more than $41 million to cover events ranging from a Philadelphia-to-Washington train ride to a megastar concert with Beyonce, U2 and Bruce Springsteen to 10 official inaugural balls. Add to that the massive costs of security and transportation — costs absorbed by U.S. taxpayers — and the historic inauguration will produce an equally historic bill.

    In 2005, Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., asked Bush to show a little less pomp and be a little more circumspect at his party.

    “President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake,” the two lawmakers wrote in a letter. “During World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignifie

  3. This article involves part of the inauguration monies and the source.

    Quote from salon.com/opinion/feature/2009/01/17/sirota/

    “Obama sells out to Wall Street

    The president-elect’s support of the bank bailout is payback to his wealthy Wall Street supporters.” By David Sirota

    {Quote: “Amid paeans to “new politics,” we’re watching old-school paybacks from a politician who raised more Wall Street dough than any other — a president-to-be whose inauguration festivities are being underwritten by the very bankers who are benefiting from the bailout largesse.

    “Or maybe before attempting more sleight of hand, Obama should take a moment away from studying Lincoln’s speeches and Roosevelt’s fireside chats and recall the irrefutable sagacity in one of the most (in)famous Bushisms of all.”

    “There’s an old saying in Tennessee,” the outgoing president said early in his first term. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me (twice) — you can’t get fooled again.” …End Quote}

  4. ‘…Carole Florman, spokeswoman for the joint congressional committee on inaugural ceremonies, told the New York Daily News, which estimated the cost at $160m: “We’re always very budget conscious. But we’re sending a message to the entire world about our peaceful
    transition of power, and you don’t want it to look like a schlock affair. It needs to be appropriate to the magnitude of events that it is.”…’
    I think it is appropriate to have a jubilant celebration. I also, however, agree it’s not necessary to be ostentatious about it.
    Whatever it ends up looking like, I doubt it will be characterized as ‘schlock’ – not for 50 million plus. I have no doubt that there will be lots of economic stimulus provided by the millions of people participating, independent of the funding budgeted for public services including security. Spending money makes money.

    Encouraging individual celebrations and supporting community ones is very smart.

    We are opening up our kitchen/family room Monday, and again on Tuesday on a smaller scale, to Inaugural Blinis n’Martinis – a variation on Vodka & Latkes which is always fun where everybody contributes.

    I am featuring Maine Sweet Potato and Yukon Gold Blinis and inviting people to bring the ‘toppings’ from caviars, cured/smoked salmon, smoked trout, creme fraiche/herbed sour cream, homemade salsas and ‘marmalades’, cheeses, and roasted vegetables – whatever they can come up with that’s festive ie ‘non-schlock’.

    We are planning to do some BBQing on Tuesday because people are coming here right from work etc and then we’re going to all watch the swearing in etc, together, on video.

  5. We are losing our way with this expensive inauguration. If John McCain had spent this kind of money, we would all know it was wrong. If John McCain had ordered a paramilitary police force to surround D.C., we would know that was wrong. Instead, we are cheering both these things along.

    To me, we are at a dangerous crossroad in this society. When we say something is O.K. because “our” guy is doing it, even though if someone else did it, we would protest, then we are following a person, a cult of personality, not our Constitution.

    I still mainitain that it does not take 50+ million dollars to celebrate the end of cheneybush or the election of Obama. A celebration is not money dependent. It is like saying people who have the most expensive wedding will have the best marriage.

    Let there be joy or celebration. It doesn’t need to cost that much ever, and especially not in hard times. After the celebration it is more important than ever to keep our heads, pay attention to what is being done, and demand that our newly elected president do what is right, not what is politically expedient.

  6. 6. Some perspective:

    $350,000,000,000 has already been spent on Wall Street under TARP, That much again has been released this week, and more than three times this much has been spent on the Financial Crisis outside of TARP. The Washington Post has estimated the cost of the war in Iraq – leaving the war in Afghanistan aside – at over $340, 000,000 per day.

    $160,000,000 – the high estimate – is less than twelve hours of the war in Iraq. If $160 million per working hour had been spent on Wall Street by Hank Paulsen, it would have taken more than a year to spend half the TARP funds – but it’s gone in about two months.

    Yes: Hank Paulsen has spent enough money to hold an Inauguration every hour of the day.

    Where’s my invite? Where’s yours? Hank? Did you forget someone?

  7. 1. Any civic, state, or federal agency with any responsibility for the Inauguration has been trained over the past 8 years to request and receive more money for security. Mostly, for the appearance of security. There will be a lot of security theater. A little of it will be effective.
    2. In some segments of American society, Barack Hussein Obama is regarded as un-American, anti-American, and a one-man sleeper terrorist cell who has risen to the highest office in the land. Undoubtedly, there will be others who profess less excuse for their opposition to the first black President. All these people have the right under the 2nd amendment to bear arms – or, carry a loaded gun. Such people pose a threat to the properly elected President of the United States for the duration of his term. I hope that police forces are going to have the resources to counter armed opposition to Obama completing his Inauguration.
    3. Money spent on constructing the sets for the events, on waiting on the revelers, on driving them to and from hotels, on manning the checkpoints, is not going directly into the pockets of the Wall Street tycoons whose bonuses have fallen below 7 figures this year. The people who serve the people who party should benefit at this time.
    4. This is history. This is an unprecedented event. It’s not so regal, that’s the departing President, Mr. Unitary Executive. This is Mr. Vox Pop.
    5. Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town: not only does Obama become President of the US, but the worst President in the history of Presidents leaves. There is much to celebrate in this, in spite of the state of the economy. Let freedom ring: let America rebound.

  8. Yasminah: I agree 100%.

    And look at it this way — it’s cheaper than a revolution.

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