20
Jan
09

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

The price tag for 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 undignified.

The thinking was that, with the nation at war, excessive celebration was inappropriate. Four years later, the nation is still at war. Unemployment has risen sharply. And Obama pressed Congress to release the second half of a $700 billion bailout package in hopes of rescuing a faltering banking industry.

Obama’s inauguration committee says it is mindful of the times and is not worried people will see the four days of festivities as excessive.

“That is probably not the way the country is going to be looking at it,” said committee spokeswoman Linda Douglass. “It is not a celebration of an election. It is a celebration of our common values.

Douglass said the campaign sought to keep costs down by having the same decorations at each of the 10 balls, eliminating floral arrangements and negotiating prices on food.

“Those at the Obama administration are trying to be reflective of the climate,” McDermott’s spokesman, Mike DeCeasar, said Saturday.

The festivities began Saturday with a speech at Philadelphia’s historic 30th Street train as Obama’s trip began.

Sunday’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial includes performances by Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks and others. Denzel Washington and Queen Latifah will read historic passages. HBO paid $2.5 million for the exclusive rights to broadcast the concert.

Monday, the inaugural committee is hosting a national day of service, followed by three “bipartisan dinners” and a concert at the Verizon Center honoring military families. The Disney Channel will broadcast the concert, which includes performances by teen stars Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, as part of a $2 million deal that also gave ABC the exclusive rights to broadcast one inaugural ball.

The television deals allowed the committee to recoup about $5 million of the $15 million production costs for the televised events, Douglass said.

Security and transportation costs are being paid by taxpayers. And with millions of tourists expected to descend on Washington for Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony, Bush declared a state of emergency, allowing the district to recover some costs for the event.

The inauguration committee is paying for 10 stadium-style screens to broadcast the inauguration ceremony on the National Mall. It is also hiring garbage and recycling services and renting thousands of portable toilets for what one supplier called “the largest temporary restroom event in the history of the United States.

Obama has pledged transparency in his inauguration fundraising. He has disclosed inaugural donors as the fundraising continued, though he is not required to do so until after the ceremony.

Many of the fundraisers are well-known moneymen and women in Democratic circles. Those leading the list raised at least $300,000. They include two of Obama’s top campaign fundraisers: Louis Susman, who retired this month as vice chairman of banking giant and government bailout recipient Citigroup, and billionaire Hyatt hotel heiress Penny Pritzker.
(Original here)

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8 Responses to “Unemployment is up. The stock market is down. Let’s party.”


  1. 1 bushgirlsgonewild
    20 January 2009 at 22:23

    boo woo. If Chimpy was elected to a thrid term, he’d be on vacation by now.

  2. 20 January 2009 at 23:18

    i don’t doubt that Obama will be a vast improvement for the U.S. and the rest of the world

  3. 20 January 2009 at 23:32

    @Bushgirlsgonewild: Please refrain from making comments as such. Just because you don’t like Bush and feel that hes taken too many vacations doesn’t mean that we should ignore the fact of the article.

    When events like this happen I always like to think of it as it would apply to my life – “Honey, I’m home. Everyone just got laid off at work, myself included. We have an insurmountable amount of debt. And the stock market is ruining all that I have invested in my 401k. But hey, lets throw the biggest party our neighborhood has ever seen.”

    It makes no sense…

  4. 4 DJ
    20 January 2009 at 23:46

    Our new President speaks, and the market nose dives. What’s next, more fiat cash from “Helicopter” Ben?

  5. 21 January 2009 at 00:42

    I think the market dived because he gave America the message of “Whatever financial situation you are in, spend like an irresponsible fool. Look at me, America is more in debt than ever. But don’t worry, someone else will pay for it.”

    So, everyone went out and said, “The hell with it, someone else is picking up this blundering tab.”

    But, I could be wrong on that one.

  6. 21 February 2009 at 11:59

    Maaaan, you know there is such thing in the web like search engine, http://google.com if you don’t, go there to understand why this post is bullshit

  7. 26 February 2009 at 21:49

    I’m open to any http://google.com searches you may have found that argue the case against this article. Please post what you have found on your http://google.com searches.

  8. 26 February 2009 at 21:52

    I do have something I found on http://google.com a while ago. Here is a screen cap of what the Dow Jones Industrial Average did when Obama signed the Stimulus Bill.


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