ABC notices the inaugural price tag

Holding a splashy inaugural during economic difficulties got George Bush some bad press in 2001, and again in 2005 while we fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The amounts spent on those two inaugurals pale in comparison to the estimated $170 million price tag of Barack Obama’s inauguration, and the media has finally begun to notice the price — and the people paying it.  ABC News reports that the Hope and Change Express will get funded by beneficiaries of the government bailout pushed by Obama and the Democrats:

The biggest group of donors were none other than the recently bailed-out Wall Street executives and employees.

“The finance sector is well represented, despite its recent troubles,” Ritsch said. “Those who worked in finance still managed to pull together nearly $7 million for the inauguration.”

The donors will get some of the best seats in the house for the inauguration, as well as admittance to some of the best balls and other events.

“I don’t think that they’re going to get a whole lot of face time with the new president himself,” Ritsch said, “but they are certainly establishing themselves from day one as his biggest financial supporters. And if there’s something they need or to tell him down the road, they will have an easier time doing that than everyone else.”

Not that they’re paying the entire bill.  Forty-nine million dollars will come straight out of the federal budget, and Virginia and Maryland expect a further $75 million in subsidies for help in covering security and logistics cost.  We’ll all be paying for this celebration of democracy.

But what will all of these Wall Street bailout recipients get for their money, which until the last couple of months used to be ours?  If not direct access, then certainly some VIP treatment:

President-elect Barack Obama billed his inauguration an event “for all Americans.” But in the nation’s capital this long weekend, wealthy visitors are finding themselves a bit more equal — and warmer — than others.

Most Americans here to see President-elect Obama make history crammed onto buses and trains, slept on floors and fought crowds and cold. But the wealthiest Americans coming to see the event are enjoying all the perks their money and power ever warranted.

For CEOs and stars arriving by private jet, local airports have shut down entire runways to serve as parking lots for their planes. Officials are prepared to handle hundreds of private aircraft for the long weekend.

What a shock — liberal supporters using private jets!  Forget the carbon footprint; the actual footprint of all that aircraft will apparently block runways for a significant period this week.  It’s an interesting manner in which to celebrate the election of someone who insists that we have to cut back on energy usage.  And all that “unity”?  Some people, Obamaniacs are discovering, are more equal than others:

Visitors who hadn’t raised hundreds of thousands of dollars couldn’t get closer to the performance. “Excuse me! You got tickets? If you don’t have tickets, you have to go to ‘General Population,'” shouted a guard at an entrance near the memorial, gesturing with her arms to turn around and head back away from the show.

The concert was supposed to be part of “the people’s party,” said Shawn Paterniti, who had come with his wife Mia from Columbia, Md., to see the show. “But still, you have the VIPs who want their front-row seats. So I guess they get their tickets no one knows about,” he said, as he and his wife headed to join the “general population,” far away from the performances.

“It seems odd to have a VIP section for a concert about unity,” quipped the local blog DCist.com. The blogger, Kriston Capps, suggested a new name for the event: “We Are One, but Some Are More One Than Others.”

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss … if you can pony up enough cash to get close enough to meet him, that is.