Inauguration 2013: Necessary Tradition or Costly Excess?

As inaugural festivities continue in Washington, D.C., we want to get a local take on the three-day production and its value to the country as a whole.


As President Barack Obama gave his second inaugural address today, Jan. 21, thousands of Americans turned out to watch the festivities in Washington, D.C. Even more tuned in to watch the pageantry live on television or the Internet.

A tradition that dates back to George Washington’s first swearing-in on April 30, 1789, the Presidential Inauguration has become bigger, better and much, much more costly through the years.

The first few inaugurations were rather short affairs that didn’t include gala balls. Washington, in fact, only spoke 135 words in his second inaugural address, according to the U.S. Senate’s website. Balls weren’t added to the mix until James Madison’s 1809 swearing-in. Those festivities only cost attendees $4 each for tickets.

Flash forward to 2013 and the exact costs of the Inauguration are hard to track.

ABC reports the 2009 festivities cost about $170 million. That news agency openly admits that tracking this year’s expenses is much harder. In a story published today, the agency said a total of $13.637 million had been appropriated so far, “but it will no doubt be a much larger price tag when everything is accounted for.”

CBS reports that taxpayers are on the hook for the swearing-in costs, security and the parade. Private donors were sought out to cover the costs of the balls.

Here’s what we want to know from you: Do you think the costs are justified because the inauguration is a time-honored American tradition? Or, do you think the festivities should be scaled back in light of America’s $16 trillion federal debt? Did you watch the festivities? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Lloyd Owings January 22, 2013 at 01:12 AM
The Party of the poor spending like a drunken sailor.
John Doe January 22, 2013 at 04:04 AM
Spending this kind of money during these Very Hard Times for Many Americans, is extremely hard to believe. What waste! Only in America...
Dan Annweiler January 22, 2013 at 01:05 PM
In light of the National Debt, it was definitely excessive. Just once I would like to hear an incoming president say, "In order to cut costs, we will have the inauguration at the White House with a few family members as guests and it will be shown on television so I can thank the American people for putting me in office. We'll have a family dinner--there will be no balls, parades or parties at the expense of the hard working taxpayer and then I will go to work and actually do my job.
Darrell Lucas January 24, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Yes Dan! I'm with you.


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