Not only short on funds, but short on transparency, too. Taxpayers foot the bill for the ceremony of the oath of office, estimated at $1.2 million, but the President pays for the rest of the festivities. Unlike four years ago, Obama needs corporations to fill the coffers for the estimated $50 million price tab for the balls and the flourishes around the initiation of his second term in office, and unlike four years ago, his fundraising committee is still coming up millions short:
With less than a week to go before President Obama is sworn in for his second term, fundraisers for the presidential inaugural committee were still working Monday to secure their goal of $50 million in private donations to finance the official festivities.
The committee was short $8 million as of last week, but the gap is closing, according to a Democratic fundraiser involved in the efforts.
On Friday, the committee added nearly 600 new donors to its public list of “benefactors” for the event, bringing the total number of contributors to 993. That includes just eight corporations that have pledged money to help put on the official parade and balls, despite Obama’s decision to reverse the ban on corporate contributions he put in place for his 2009 inauguration.
So how much money are these corporations kicking in — besides “not enough”? The LA Times notes that transparency has come up short as compared to four years ago, too:
It is unclear how much any of the donors have contributed to the presidential inaugural committee, which is charged with paying for all the official festivities except the swearing-in itself. (A joint congressional committee, financed with more than $1.2 million in taxpayer dollars, has that responsibility.) Unlike four years ago, the committee is not disclosing the size of the contributions until it files a report with the Federal Election Commission in April.
Part of the problem is the scale of the event. Obama spent $53.2 million on his first inauguration, even though the economy had just tanked; over 700,000 people lost their jobs (net) in the same month as all of the celebrations Team Obama staged for his triumphal entry into office. They have only trimmed the budget by about 6% for a second-term inauguration, which on one hand seems excessive, but on the other remarkable … since Obama’s usual definition of budget cuts is to slightly reduce the rate of expansion.
They have reduced the number of presidential balls to just two, but don’t confuse that with parsimony. The two put together will have tens of thousands of attendees, and lots of celebrity power, according to Politico:
Steve Kerrigan, head honcho for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee, has a message for carping congressmen, donors and Obama supporters who’ve heard there’s only one official inaugural ball this year and are afraid they won’t make the cut. It’s a mirage.
One of the best-kept secrets in town is that the one public inaugural ball will be a doozy, with upward of 40,000 partying in a single bacchanalia under one roof at the Washington Convention Center. It’s the equivalent of six or seven traditional inaugural balls such as those held four years ago. ….
Left unsaid, however, was that the two balls together would host tens of thousands of people and feature a stout array of high-profile entertainers performing over two floors of the vast convention center. Among them: Stevie Wonder, Usher, Katy Perry, Marc Anthony, John Legend, Smokey Robinson and Alicia Keyes. “So it’s not a 10 [balls] down to two type situation,” concedes Kerrigan.
There are indeed fewer official social events planned for the hundreds of thousands of partygoers set to celebrate Obama’s swearing-in, but what there are have been underplayed. You won’t find listed on any official calendars, for example, an A-list candlelight dinner Sunday night at the Kennedy Center for high rollers and other Democratic hotshots that the president and first lady Michelle Obama are set to attend.
Look, a presidential inauguration is a big deal, and it’s common practice to have plenty of celebrations. However, second-term celebrations traditionally get less attention, and for good reason: we have continuity rather than change. Perhaps, instead of running short with a bankroll of $42 million, Team Obama should just be satisfied with that enormous amount of money and scale the celebrations accordingly. Plenty of other Americans have had to scale back a lot more than 10% during his first term.