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jca's avatar

2013 inauguration costs: Could it be 220 million, and if so, how does that stack up to previous inaugurations?

Asked by jca (35976points) January 23rd, 2013

I saw someone post on Facebook that the 2013 inauguration cost the “American taxpayers” 220 million.

Could it have cost that much? If so, how would that total stack up compared to previous inaugurations? I am thinking of the grandeur of the Reagans, during the big spending days (although granted the total would be less, unless we take into consideration the increase of inflation and costs in general).

Not that I intend to argue with the person that posted it, as I usually avoid those arguments on FB when I can, but I am just curious and it does seem like a huge figure, if possible.

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14 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Whether it is more, the same, or less, it seems like a lot of money to be spending when the country is in such a big debt. Even if it were $20 million it seems like a lot to me. I’ll be following, I am interested in the answers.

Someone on TV recently said they think a second inaguration for a sitting President is unnecessary and a waste. I can go along wo that. That isn’t a criticism of Obama, just a criticism of whether we should do it or not no matter who the President considering the expense.

Seek's avatar

Well, considering that the money was spent in the United States, in order to pay for services rendered in the United States, to American taxpaying employees and companies,

Who. Cares.

It’s good for the economy to spend money on things to people who will turn around and spend the money.

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m a big Obama supporter, and I completely agree with everything you just said @JLeslie. I do think a sitting President’s inaugural speech should still get full coverage, but perhaps it’s made from the Oval Office.

marinelife's avatar

“Taxpayers pick up the tab for the inaugural swearing-in, security and the parade.

But it’s private donors who pay for all those swank inaugural balls and celebrations.

This time around, it’s estimated $40 million will be raised for the lavish parties that draw some of the biggest money players in politics.

Inaugural festivities have come a long way since James Madison charged admission to the ball at the door in 1809. Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter raised $3–4 million. Ronald Reagan, both Bushes, and Bill Clinton raised $16 to $30 million. Then, in 2009, President Obama’s inaugural committee shattered all records, with $53 million donated by private citizens.

CBS News

jca's avatar

@marinelife: Is it possible that the swearing in, security and parade cost 220 mil?

JLeslie's avatar

Related, I heard there was only 3 or 4 balls this time, while 4 years ago it was more like 10.

I think @marinelife is right alot of the festivities are private donations. Still, that is a lot of money for gala events, rather than going to charities that might benefit in a way that helps those in need, or even reduce the deficit if the money went to taxes.

But, I also agree with the point made above that the events employ Americans.

I can’t imagine a swearing in and parade costs $220 million?! It seems ridiculously high. But, I really have no idea.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Even if it cost only $1000, I think it’s a waste of money. Our country is deep in debt, he’s already had one inauguration, why the hell did there need to be a huge deal made out of this one? FFS, save the money and do something useful with it!

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate As long as the Republicans who are bitching would say the same about Reagan I think that’s fair. I am not saying you, I don’t even remember where exactly you stand on the political spectrum.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I would say the same about any inauguration party right now. And I’m somewhere in the middle.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I assumed you would, but I wonder about the people sending the info around in emails and on facebook, the people that prompted the conversation.

Jaxk's avatar

This article puts it closer to $300 million. It also gives some insight into the where the money is spent and why.

In comparison George W. Bush’s first inauguration cost $42.3 million and his second came in at just under $30 million. Bill Clinton’s first inaugural was $33 million and his second inauguration was $31 million. Apparently, Obama is a much bigger deal.

marinelife's avatar

@jca $220 million is a little high.

“What’s the show going to cost? If the cost of recent past inaugurations are any indication, well over $100 million.

In 2005, for President Bush’s second inauguration, “the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers,” according to the New York Times.

And for Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, the cost for the government was over $125 million, according to reports”

The Weekly Standard

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Jaxk Weekly World News, really? You, uh… you do realize that’s the same ‘paper’ that covers Batboy, right?

seriously, this quote: ””President Obama is the greatest President in the history of the country, and we need to spend as much as we can to celebrate that fact,” said a White House insider. ”We wanted to spend a billion dollars, but we know that a lot of people are suffering in the country, so we restrained ourselves a little bit.”” Didn’t tip you off that it might be satire?

Anyway, a factcheck about the inauguration from 2009 places it in a very similar cost to Bush’s: Specifically, comparing the $160 million number to the $40 million number is explicitly misleading: It’s comparing the full cost for Obama to only the money that Bush raised to cover costs, not the actual price. In the end,

“All the bills for Obama’s event won’t be in for several more weeks, but it appears likely that his inauguration will not cost significantly more than Bush’s second inauguration, and could conceivably cost less after adjusting for inflation.”

And it seems like this year’s festivities will be similar, (current actual estimates peg it around $180 million), though final numbers are not in yet and won’t be for several weeks at best.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Also, a quick note for those of you upset at the expense, the vast majority (~130 million this time around , I think), is security, not the gala bits. The ‘fun stuff’, as it were, the jumbotrons, food, money for the ball, etc, is covered by fundraising (that’s the $43 million figure that gets cited for Bush, and that number seems likely to be similar this year). All the rest of the money is for security concerns in the DC area, as well as Virginia and Maryland.

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