The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

December 17, 2012

Big price for president’s inaugural pomp

WASHINGTON — The pomp surrounding the inauguration of the president of the United States can carry a hefty price tag, from the glitzy galas to all those inaugural balls.

Think of it this way: It can cost about the same as 150 Bentley cars, several dozen yachts or some $20 million shy of the cash needed for a Boeing 737.

But taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the fun stuff — the balls and other celebratory events — and this inauguration won’t be as big as the last one for President Barack Obama.

A solid chunk of the tab for the 57th inauguration next month will be picked up by loyal supporters and other private donors, as it has been for years. In 2009, Obama raised $53 million in private money for his inauguration, when a record 1.8 million people braved the winter chill to see him take his place in history as America’s first black president.

Previous inaugural committees have raised big cash, too, though not as much as Obama. President George W. Bush had about $40 million raised for each of his inaugurals. For President Bill Clinton, it was about $30 million in 1997.

But this time around, with the economy still sputtering out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression, Obama is scaling back the celebrations a bit.

The official activities will span three days, starting with a National Day of Service on Jan. 19 and culminating on Jan. 21 with the swearing-in, the parade and the balls. Last time, it was four days of events.

As for those inaugural balls, there won’t be as many. There were 10 official balls four years ago, but this time around a source close to the inaugural planning says there will be fewer balls, though no final number has been decided yet.

In 2009, there also was a huge rock concert on the National Mall with U2, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and many others. No repeat this time. The planning for the 2013 inaugural doesn’t include a mall concert.

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