Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why is Barack Obama having such an expensive inaugural when we are in such dire times?

As the recession continues to wreak havoc on the U.S. economy and inauguration celebrations ramp up, a lot of people are asking: "How much will this shindig cost?"

The short answer? More than $150 million — and yep, that's the most expensive ever. (By comparison, George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration cost $42.3 million. Bill Clinton managed with $33 million in 1993.)

For the first time, President Bush has declared an emergency in Washington, D.C. to supplement the $15 million Congress has already allotted for security measures. It's no surprise that security costs are sky-high — Barack Obama received Secret Service protection very early in his presidential run and record crowds (likely anywhere from 1.5 to 3 million people) are expected for the record number of events. In fact, the Secret Service will be in charge of security not just for inauguration day, but for four days, starting Saturday with Obama's train ride from Philadelphia. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the AP:

"It will be the most security, as far as I'm aware, that any inauguration's had."

Obama's much-discussed (and very cool-looking) custom Cadillac limo certainly couldn't come cheap, though we'll never really know how much it cost. Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell said the car's exact specifications are a big secret, including the safety features and production cost.

But Forbes reports it's not all flak jackets and armored cars:

To manage an event of this scale, the District of Columbia will spend a mammoth $47 million. It is not enough.... Much of the $45 million will go toward creating a dynamic Inauguration experience for the everyday visitor, not just funding exclusive events. "We don't even consider these events to be extravagant," says Linda Douglas, a spokeswoman from the Presidential Inauguration Committee. "With crowds of this size, most of our attention is being devoted to opening up as many events to the public."

Read the entire story HERE

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