While You're Losing Your Job, Bush Co. Throws a Party

As inauguration costs rise, so do critics' complaints
TheTimesHerald.com (01.16)
This is some bad ju–ju folks...

To pay for what could be the most expensive inauguration ever, President Bush has commissioned well-connected associates to tap some familiar, deep-pocketed individuals and major corporations to raise as much as $40 million.

That would match what was spent in 2001 dollars for Bush's first inauguration and is 10 times what Richard Nixon spent in 1973 dollars for his inaugural events.

But this year's celebration Tuesday through Friday –– highlighted by a parade, nine inaugural balls, candlelight dinners for major donors, a youth concert, prayer breakfast and the swearing in of Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney –– could exceed the estimated cost.


The huge sums have raised concerns that donors with matters before Congress are buying access to politicians. Critics, including local officials, also have bashed the Republicans for putting on such an elaborate celebration when the country's economy is still in a slump and when much global attention is focused on providing aid to victims of the tsunami that devastated much of southern Asia.

"It's hard not to think of it as obscene with what's happening right now in Asia," said Matthew Dennis, a history professor at the University of Oregon, who has studied inaugurations.

Said William Grover, a political scientist at St. Michael's College in Vermont: "It's troubling for democracy because it gives those people greater access to persons in power, and that raises real questions.

Local reaction

Marilyn Merrick, chairwoman of the St. Clair Democratic Party, has been talking about the spending with her executive committee.

"The declaration that the taxpayers are not paying for a lavish display of wealth at the inauguration of President Bush is a poor excuse for overspending," Merrick said. "People in our country are losing jobs to outsourcing, losing health–care benefits. The homeless rate is climbing daily, and our educational system lacks needed funding. The picture is dismal from the middle– and lower–class perspective."
Well if you're looking for the sound bite, Marilyn just gave it to you.

As for us? Well last time around we were in DC and we stayed in and cleaned our apartment. This time? Not spending 1 damn dime. Will it make a difference, not really but it will make us feel better.


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