November 30th, 2008
10:48 AM ET
7 months ago

Obama inauguration could take on subdued tone

Inauguration preparations at the Capitol began before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Inauguration preparations at the Capitol began before the Thanksgiving holiday.

(CNN) - Millions of people are expected to go to Washington to celebrate Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20, but with a troubled economy and pocketbook issues on the mind, the president-elect must be careful to set the right tone.

President Bush raised a record $42.8 million dollars for his second inauguration, and according to Public Citizen, more than 90 percent of the donations to that ceremony were from executives or corporations.

But this year, some say throwing a multimillion-dollar party would be unseemly in a time when crash, bailout, and foreclosure fill the economic headlines.

"A lot of it is about tone and making sure that the celebrations that do take place are not over the top, that they don't appear to be insensitive to the pain people have right now," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The inaugural committee for Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to make sure the ceremony underscores the incoming administration's "commitment to change business as usual in Washington."

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has limited individual contributions to $50,000. There is no law restricting the size of donations, but in the past, inaugural committees have set contribution limits as high as $250,000.

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. ET from Omaha

    The noise of the water can not prevent sea creatures from sleeping.
    When you crie you can at leat see.
    It's a historic moment that needed to be celabrated.

    November 30, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. c2

    I think it should be huge. Sorry. Even though it's a tough economy this is an epic and epoc event in our history. This IS a time to party. I want to see the new admin do it right.

    November 30, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Reza Javadkhani

    The american people has expressed desire for "Change" on Nov.4th.

    Let us celebrate this up coming inauguration with Frugality .

    Best.

    November 30, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. California Gold

    Safety is as important as a fiscally modest inauguration. Record numbers of people are anticipated to attend, whether or not they secure a ticket. This increases the risk, IMHO and I pray safety is not part of a budget reduction.

    November 30, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. marie

    it's probably a smart move but i think the event should still be grand enough because this is really a historic moment in american culture... Obama is smart, he will know how to set the tone in his speech and manners (remember the tone in front of 250 000 people in chicago Nov. 4th...)

    November 30, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. dennis

    Why don't the people that vote all these politicians in start to realize what they are doing. They want to save money but the can go and spend millions of dollars on parties,vehicles, hair cuts, etc. Why don't they give this money to the people that voted them in? It's rediculous to have them spend this much money in the time we have right now. Another point they want to bring up is oujr economy. This isn't showing the people that they want to save now does it. All these politians need to wake up, no I'm sorry the people that vote these huys in need to wake up. Thes guys are spending our and I say our money left and right and they still get voted in, I've got another point with our country. Why is it we have to get all our stuff from overseas? This is not america anymore, we have become a foriegn country, Obama says he wants to create jobs here o\in the u.s. then start back making our stuff back in the u.s. instead of getting it from overseas? PEOPLE WAKE UP?

    November 30, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  7. Simmy

    This is a man who will shine brightly no matter how small or large the attention placed on him!

    God is with him, and the ceremonies will be spectacular without pomp and circumstances.

    November 30, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  8. Barbara in NC

    Simplicity is beauty.

    It's also usually a lot less expensive.

    I'm all for downsizing everything including Congressional pay – which they will probably vote to increase in January. As long as Americans are losing jobs and homes, I think they should NOT get an increase in pay.

    November 30, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  9. David Goldman

    THE WHOLE WORLD WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO

    THIS INAUGURATION. IT IS A FACT THAT, NO ONE

    WILL RUN HIS ADMINISTRATION BUT PRESIDENT OBAMA.

    THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE WHATEVER THEY WANT. IT WILL

    MAKE NO DIFFERENCE. & WE DON'T CARE IF HE SHOWS UP

    IN A BURLAP CLOTH & SERVES LETTUCE & WATER. WE WILL

    CELABRATE THE DAY HE TAKES OFFICE FOR

    AS LONG AS WE LIVE. THIS CAN ONLY HAPPEN IN AMERICA.

    November 30, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  10. dennis

    Why don't the people that vote all these politicians in start to realize what they are doing. They want to save money but they can go and spend millions of dollars on parties,vehicles, hair cuts, etc. Why don't they give this money to the people that voted them in? It's rediculous to have them spend this much money in the time we have right now. Another point they want to bring up is our economy. This isn't showing the people that they want to save now does it. All these politians need to wake up, no I'm sorry the people that vote these guys in need to wake up. Thes guys are spending our money and I say our money left and right and they still get voted in, I've got another point with our country. Why is it we have to get all our stuff from overseas? This is not america anymore, we have become a foriegn country, Obama says he wants to create jobs here o\in the u.s. then start back making our stuff back in the u.s. instead of getting it from overseas? PEOPLE WAKE UP?

    November 30, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  11. Jason, Omaha

    I'll admit that I am hurting financially, but I would not mind if Barack Obama through a multi million dollar bash. He's made a once in a lifetime achievement, something that onlyh 1 out of 300,000,000 Americans have done, and something only 44 people in the history of our country have achieved. I don't think he should have to have a lame cheap party just because people will think its "unseemly." And Obama throwing a cheap lame party will not solve anything.

    November 30, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  12. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    If ever there was a time to celebrate the time is now and after all it's only a one day affair that doesn't affect the economy. This ignauguration is history making and no bars should be set.

    November 30, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. Kim

    $42.8 million dollars??? Why does an inauguration cost that much money?

    November 30, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. Tracy M.

    Those corporation executives who feel the pinch of not being able to donate that extra $200,000 to the inauguration should feel free to donate that money to high school seniors like my daughter, who have good grades, are active in extracurricular activities, work summers and weekends saving money for college, and want to give something back to society after college. Yeah, I know. I won't hold my breath.

    November 30, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. DKR

    They shouldn't have a limits on donations for this!

    GO OBAMA, GO AMERICA!!!

    November 30, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Susan

    Personally, I think all inauguration festivities should be shelved. It's unseemly given how people are struggling. Don't get me wrong, I'm an Obama supporter and I'm extremely proud of everything the Dems achieved this year, but party on your own time with your own money.

    November 30, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. God Bless America

    The people of America can not wait to celebrate the ending of the "ERA OF BUSH"! Starting 2009 with PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA is the FIRST REALIZATION OF AMERICA'S HOPE FOR NEW DIRECTION AND A BETTER AMERICA!!!!! On January 20th, 2009 AMERICA will show the world how great democracy is!!!!! On January 20th, 2009 America's Sons and Daughters will come out in full force to say we SUPPORT THIS PRESIDENT!!!!! MAKE SURE WE DO IT RIGHT!!! DO NOT HOLD ANYTHING BACK FROM OUR CELEBRATION!!! .........after all the WORLD will be watching!!!!!! SEE YOU THERE!!!

    November 30, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. Catherine

    I don't think the tone needs to be somber, but spending $48 million might be seen as a lapse in judgment given the circumstances. I do think a celebration is right and he should have the opportunity to celebrate an achievement that he worked hard to attain.

    November 30, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. carol

    I don't think it will be over the top, but I do think it should be celebrated as the exciting, historic event it will be....people should be allowed to celebrate however they see fit.
    The organizers I'm sure will not want to make people think that no amount of money is too much for this event and I'm sure Obama himself would not want it to be seen as that also.
    It is going to attract millions of people from here and around the world and it's going to be absolutely thrilling to be part of it and witness history being made....whether we are actually there or have to watch it on TV, it's going to be a great day.

    November 30, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    As he always does, Barack Obama will handle this situation as it should be handled. This is a man that I can say with complete certainty that I trust implicity! I know this man has the best interests of this country and its people at heart.

    All ceremonies of this sort must have a certain pomp and circumstance. After all, this is the President of the United States' swearing in ceremony. We can afford to make this a day to remember. But I agree that there should be limits due to the circumstances of the time. And yet, I want to see a day to remember!

    May Barack Obama be kept safe is my concern as well. We do not need another Abraham Lincoln, JFK or MLK experience. We need this man to be able to complete his Presidency and his policies for change. There are too many people who would NOT like to see this happen for my taste.

    Just saying.... :) God Bless the man and the day!

    November 30, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  21. Griff

    Blurp!...

    November 30, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. C W

    And in the true spirit of coming together and cooperation, it'd be great to see people donate their services (I'm thinking in particular of the entertainers who have been asked to perform – I'm sure they can afford to pay their way).

    November 30, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  23. Ryan

    This is an outrage! This is clearly....

    sigh.

    Remember back before the election when everything on the ticker got 250 comments in an hour?

    November 30, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  24. Washington Observer

    Well Mr President elect, why not publish a list of all the $50,000 corporate, PAC, and lobbyist contributions you take in for this party? You remember the corporate, PAC, and lobbyists, don't you ? Those are the folks you promised never to deal with.

    November 30, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Conservative Not NeoCon

    It's been a long bitter campaign, the economy is bent out of shape and there is two ill conceived wars we still need to resolve. I think with all the sour news, we Americans can use a little uplifting celebration for our moral. After all, these problems won't disappear regardless of a grand inaugural event or a toned down one. It's not like we will lose focus over these issues over this ONE day – So make it ROCK!!!

    I for one would like to have some sweets among the sour once in a while, that's living life.

    November 30, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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