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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.

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patrick mcmordie January 21, 2013 at 07:07 PM
the military had balls farther back then the first president. They have scaled back to if your going to have a ball it is out of your Soldiers pocket. Yes meals are paid but it is limited to $8.95 per soldier for the Soldier only. so Soldier usually has to pay $40.00 per guest to cover all costs. no musician. if lucky a DJ that is if your unit can through out the year donate at a buck a strip per Soldier throughout the year. So I believe it is an outrage that the president can throw a party costing the tax payers more money. When he states we have to get strict with our budget and make some drastic cuts. It becomes more of a do as I say not as I do ethics. Eventually people will get sick of them squeezing us like trying to pull blood out of turnips and will they not tolerate it. Leadership starts at the top if your going to enforce standards then start at the top. Set the example not become part of the problem.
aky13 January 21, 2013 at 08:23 PM
While I recognize the importance of making a big show of our peaceful transition from one presidential election to the next, one administration to the next, both for our own people and for the rest of the world, it is a ridiculously expensive proposition! Under ordinary circumstances, monarchs are crowned every 2-5 decades. MAYBE they can afford to make a big deal about it. We do this every four years! ESPECIALLY, does it make sense for the inauguration of a second term president? Before answering, consider that we have to BORROW the money from the Chinese to put on this show!
Ann Hark January 21, 2013 at 11:16 PM
In light of Americans economic climate the inauguration expenses are excessive and unnecessary. You would think that the President would make a stand and want to cut back. It is ridiculous! Swear him in and get on with the business of running this country.
Lois A. MacAdam January 24, 2013 at 01:01 AM
I agree that a second term president doesn't need all this hooplah! Swear him in, have a couple songs sung if you want to, and be done with it. Even the parade is a total waste of money, especially if we, the taxpayers, have to foot the bill. We are so far in debt now that this whole thing seems utterly ridiculous.

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