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.