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Hullabaloo


Sunday, January 18, 2009

 
More Big Lies

by digby

I think this is getting some traction and it needs to be stopped.
Unemployment is up. The stock market is down. Let's party.

The price tag for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration gala is expected to break records, with some estimates reaching as high as $150 million. Despite the bleak economy, however, Democrats who called on President George W. Bush to be frugal four years ago are issuing no such demands now that an inaugural weekend of rock concerts and star-studded parties has begun.

Obama's inaugural committee has raised more than $41 million to cover events ranging from a Philadelphia-to-Washington train ride to a megastar concert with Beyonce, U2 and Bruce Springsteen to 10 official inaugural balls. Add to that the massive costs of security and transportation — costs absorbed by U.S. taxpayers — and the historic inauguration will produce an equally historic bill.

In 2005, Reps. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and Jim McDermott, D-Wash., asked Bush to show a little less pomp and be a little more circumspect at his party.

"President Roosevelt held his 1945 inaugural at the White House, making a short speech and serving guests cold chicken salad and plain pound cake," the two lawmakers wrote in a letter. "During World War I, President Wilson did not have any parties at his 1917 inaugural, saying that such festivities would be undignified."

The thinking was that, with the nation at war, excessive celebration was inappropriate. Four years later, the nation is still at war. Unemployment has risen sharply. And Obama pressed Congress to release the second half of a $700 billion bailout package in hopes of rescuing a faltering banking industry.


That was the AP , by the way, not Newsmax.

Boehlert dispatches this thoroughly:

The Internet and cable news were filled with chatter about the jaw-dropping (and unsubstantiated) number suddenly attached to Obama's swearing-in. But the sloppy reporting and online gossip about the price tag illustrated what happens when journalists don't do their job and online partisans take advantage of that kind of work.

It also highlighted the type of news you can generate when making blatantly false comparisons. In this case, it was the cost of the Obama and Bush inaugurations. The connection was unfair because the Obama figure of $160 million that got repeated in the press included security costs associated with the massive event. But the Bush tab of $42 million left out those enormous costs. Talk about stacking the deck.

[...]

Here's why using the $160 million number and comparing it with Bush's 2005 costs represented a classic apples-and-oranges assessment: For years, the press routinely referred to the cost of presidential inaugurations by calculating how much money was spent on the swearing-in and the social activities surrounding that. The cost of the inauguration's security was virtually never factored into the final tab, as reported by the press. For instance, here's The Washington Post from January 20, 2005, addressing the Bush bash:

The $40 million does not include the cost of a web of security, including everything from 7,000 troops to volunteer police officers from far away, to some of the most sophisticated detection and protection equipment.

For decades, that represented the norm in terms of calculating inauguration costs: Federal dollars spent on security were not part of the commonly referred-to cost. (The cost of Obama's inauguration, minus the security costs? Approximately $45 million.) What's happening this year: The cost of the Obama inauguration and the cost of the security are being combined by some in order to come up with the much larger tab. Then, that number is being compared with the cost of the Bush inauguration in 2005, minus the money spent on security.

In other words, it's the unsubstantiated Obama cost of $160 million (inauguration + security) compared with the Bush cost of 42 million (inauguration, excluding security). Those are two completely different calculations being compared side-by-side, by Fox & Friends, among others, to support the phony claim that Obama's inauguration is $100 million more expensive than Bush's.

That's why the right-wing site Newsmax.com confidently reported that Obama's swearing-in would cost "nearly four times what George Bush's inauguration cost four years ago."


I've been hearing kvetching about the "enormous cost of the inauguration while people are suffering" in some non-political corners the last couple of days. It's not going to rain on the celebration, but it could be one of those things that's regurgitated down the road as the wingnuts try to revive their "big spending liberals" meme. And it's nothing more than a right wing hit job.


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