MSNBC's Tamron Hall asserted Bush's 2005 inauguration "cost roughly $40 million," ignored reported $100 million in additional costs

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

MSNBC's Tamron Hall stated that "the inauguration festivities" for President-elect Barack Obama are "estimated to reach as high as $150 million," while "[i]n 2004, to note, the inauguration of George W. Bush cost roughly $40 million." But the $40 million figure that Hall cited for Bush's second inauguration reportedly does not include security and transportation costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia; these costs are included in the $150 million estimate that the media are reporting for the Obama inauguration.

During the January 18 edition of MSNBC Live, host Tamron Hall stated that "the inauguration festivities" for President-elect Barack Obama are "estimated to reach as high as $150 million," adding that "[i]n 2004, to note, the inauguration of George W. Bush cost roughly $40 million." However, the $40 million figure that Hall cited for Bush's second inauguration reportedly does not include certain costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia such as security and transportation costs; these costs are included in the $150 million estimate that the media are reporting for the Obama inauguration. When the costs incurred by the federal government and the District of Columbia are factored in, the total cost of Bush's 2005 inauguration was reportedly around $157 million, as Media Matters for America senior fellow Eric Boehlert noted.

The Washington Post reported in January 2005 that the $40 million cost of Bush's inaugural celebration, raised from private donations "does not include the cost of a web of security, including everything from 7,000 troops to volunteer police officers from far away, to some of the most sophisticated detection and protection equipment." Further, The New York Times reported on January 5 that in 2005, "the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers."

This year, the Presidential Inaugural Committee reportedly plans to spend around $45 million on the celebrations "surrounding the actual ceremony," all of which "comes completely from private donations, not the government." In addition, public funds will cover security, transportation, staffing, construction, and the actual swearing-in ceremony. According to CNNMoney.com:

The total cost of the inauguration to the federal government is $49 million, according to Abigail Tanner, spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget.

That $49 million includes a $15 million appropriation which has already been appropriated to the District of Columbia to help pay for the inauguration expenses. It also includes money to pay for the Secret Service during the inauguration and the military personnel during the parade following the swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, the governors of Virginia and Maryland, and the mayor of Washington sent a letter to the federal government estimating that the inauguration was going to cost them a combined $75 million -- $47 million for the District alone -- for transportation and law enforcement.

The District may be eligible for more federal money beyond the $15 million appropriated. President Bush announced Tuesday that the District was in a state of emergency, making more funding available for "emergency protective measures that are undertaken to save lives and protect public health and safety."

From the January 18 edition of MSNBC Live:

HALL: Well, the inauguration festivities of Barack Obama as the nation's 44th president are estimated to reach as high as $150 million. In 2004, to note, the inauguration of George W. Bush cost roughly $40 million. At the same price, some Democrats criticized the president for being too lavish at wartime. And joining us now is Democratic congresswoman from the state of California, honorary co-chair of the 2009 presidential inauguration, Representative Linda Sanchez. Thank you so much for joining us, Congresswoman. I'm gonna ask you off the top before we talk about some of the fun that goes along with this -- and there is a lot of it -- $150 million. How can Democrats have criticized George Bush for $40 million, and then you see the lavish amount of money being spent here now?

SANCHEZ: Well, it's important to keep in mind that the vast majority of that money comes from donations. So --

HALL: I understand it's like $40 million. That -- that does --

SANCHEZ: Right. But you also have to think about the times that we're in and the fact that this is a historic election. When we were talking about the Bush inauguration and the criticism he received, that was his second inaugural. He had already been inaugurated once. We're talking about the first inaugural for a historic president, and we're talking about somebody that draws much larger crowds than President Bush ever did. There are so many people that were involved in his campaign and that want to be a part of this event, so it seems only fitting that in order to include as many of these people as possible, that the scope of it's going to be a little bit bigger.

HALL: It's interesting, because I believe it was either Chris Matthews or Mike Barnicle -- I'd hate to get either of them mixed up -- but they were talking about the grandeur, and that that's what these people out here really want. They want to see the spectacle of hope. Is that really -- was that a part of the strategy going in, or just did it evolve to this?

SANCHEZ: I wasn't part of the strategy in terms of what, you know, what the preparations would be, but I do think that, you know, people right now are looking to his presidency as restoring hope in America and they're excited about it, and that's why you see unprecedented numbers of people descending on Washington, D.C., and wanting to go to some of these events. And they're trying to make them as accessible as possible for everybody at all income levels, and so, you know, I think that the genuine excitement that he generates is just something that we haven't seen in decades in this country.

HALL: It's interesting. Where -- and I don't want to catch you off guard here; I know you're the co-chair so there were other people handling the nuts and bolts -- but do we know where the bulk of the money is going?

SANCHEZ: I don't know that answer.

HALL: Don't know that answer. I know that the transportation and the security is covered by city or the taxpayers' dollars there, but with that said, on a happier note, what are you most looking forward to?

Posted In
Government
Person
Tamron Hall
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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