Monday, January 17, 2005

Fiddling While Rome Burns: Bush Inaugural Fest to Cost $40 Million

I am just catching up on old newspaper reading from my hellish work schedule last week. I completely missed this; why is no one reporting this?! Why is the President's second inaugural costing more than twice the amount of his first? Even when you factor in the additional security, you can't possibly reach $17 million from $8 million.

The additional amount of the $40 million total I believe is being raised through private funds, but has anyone asked the obvious question of this self-described Wartime President? "Why are you throwing a $40 million party for yourself while our troops are dying in Iraq due to lack of body armor and other equipment?" Could your Pioneers perhaps have donated to THAT effort? How about a little respect for the "wartime" that your administration brought us in the first place? We get it: your election was a "mandate" to "spend political capital." But this? This is nothing more than self-aggrandizing, ignorant, classic Republican "let the little guy bear the sacrifice while I TALK about sacrifice in my Oscar de la Renta tuxedo at $100,000 + parties."

Oh yeah, and while I'm at it, let's make the District of Columbia eat it. They didn't vote for me anyway, and most Congresspeople live in well-heeled Virginia suburbs, and my major supporters are heading back to Texas, and Congress has its own bomb shelter anyway, so if DC squanders their homeland security money on my party, well what of it? No one I know will suffer should OBL release sarin gas on the metro...

I am really trying to not completely hate this president, because after all, he has better "values" and "morals" than the last one. Right?....Right?

ARGH!!


D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects.

Federal officials have told the District that it should cover the expenses by using some of the $240 million in federal homeland security grants it has received in the past three years -- money awarded to the city because it is among the places at highest risk of a terrorist attack.

But that grant money is earmarked for other security needs, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said in a Dec. 27 letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua B. Bolten and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Williams's office released the letter yesterday.

Williams estimated that the city's costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.

"We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities," said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor's deputy chief of staff. "This is the first time there hasn't been a direct appropriation for the inauguration."

A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor's stance. He called the Bush administration's position "simply not acceptable."

"It's an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?" said Davis spokesman David Marin.

The region has earmarked federal homeland security funds for such priorities as increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers.

The $17.3 million the city expects to spend on this inauguration marks a sharp increase from the $8 million it incurred for Bush's first.

According to Williams's letter, the District anticipates spending $8.8 million in overtime pay for about 2,000 D.C. police officers; $2.7 million to pay 1,000-plus officers being sent by other jurisdictions across the country; $3 million to construct reviewing stands; and $2.5 million to place public works, health, transportation, fire, emergency management and business services on emergency footing.

Congressional aides said the District sought unsuccessfully last year to boost the annual security reimbursement fund from $15 million to $25 million to pay for inauguration expenses. In contrast, New York City and Boston-area lawmakers were able to obtain $50 million from Congress for each of those two jurisdictions to cover local security costs for the national political conventions.

Inauguration officials said they plan to spend $40 million on the four-day celebration, which will include fireworks, the swearing-in, a parade and nine balls. Those expenses -- which do not include security and other public services -- are being funded by private donors.

OMB and DHS spokesmen said they could not provide an estimate of what the inauguration will cost the federal government.

Federal employees who work in the District, Montgomery, Prince George's, Fairfax and Arlington counties, Alexandria and Falls Church are entitled to a holiday on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, the Office of Personnel Management has announced. As of June, the cost of giving federal workers in the capital area a day off was about $66 million.

1 comment:

Raine said...

That's odd.

In my newspaper, it was quoted that the end cost of the party was going to end at $40 Billion. Thats right, three extra zeroes there.

At this point, I'm too burnt out to complain. This is just the coattail to Bush's long list of mistakes and misdemeanors. How do you protest someone who has the power of an emperor? I am the liberal media he so likes to bash, and he's not alone.