I've gotten a number of emails concerning my post the other day that questioned the high cost of the Obama Inaugural. It turns out there's more to the story, producing one of those garbage-in, garbage-out conclusions that are an occupational hazard when doing a blog. Here’s the deal: The actual Obama festivities will run about $45 million, which is only a bit higher than the previous Bush inaugural. That excludes the $124 million that federal, state and local governments are paying for security and the official swearing-in ceremony - money the Obama folks had no control over. A bunch of early reports, well-fueled by the folks at Fox, did not consider the security-related expenses and made an apples-and-oranges comparison that had Obama's Inauguration costing $100 million more than Bush's. Eric Boehlert had a thing or two to say about the confusion at Media Matters:
The misinformation first arrived in the form of an underreported newspaper article in America, and then one in London. Between them, and thanks to furious transatlantic online linking, the reports gave birth to the story that Obama's inauguration was going to cost nearly four times what the country spent on Bush's bash in 2005 -- that the Obama inauguration would cost almost $120 million more.
Here's Steve Benen's take at Washington Monthly:
Now, truth be told, I don't much care which president's inauguration came with a bigger price tag. The evidence suggests Bush's and Obama's will end up costing about the same. What I do care about is a misleading drive on the part of a lot of news outlets to characterize Obama as some kind of extravagant spendthrift, insensitive to the plight of struggling American families. It's total nonsense. Something to keep in mind as this story makes the rounds.
With Congress about to lay out hundreds of billions of dollars in fiscal stimulus, the confusion over inaugural costs should be viewed as a small but telling cautionary tale. Too many people - reporters, pundits, bloggers, et al – haven’t the first clue about many of the numbers they're writing about - numbers that will help determine whether the stimulus plan is doing any good and whether the economy is getting better or worse. Oh, this should be quite a year.