There 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.
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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