November 30th, 2008
10:48 AM ET
6 years 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. silver bells

    obama the greatest president in americas history. be safe mr. president.

    November 30, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. katiec

    Although inaugerations are a necessity, would like to see it
    done in a conservative manner. Have no idea how much is
    spent, but with the economy as it is, it does not have to be
    as elaborate.

    November 30, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Joseph Adewole

    No doubt about this, Barack Obama is very intelligent and he's God bring peace to the world and give hope to the hopeless....always remember Isiah 54 verse 17, that is your motto.

    November 30, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. vic

    Don't even think about throwing a wet blanket on Obamas inauguration. This is an inauguration of historic means and I plan to celebrate it to the fullest!
    Not only are we celebrating the Obama victory, we're also celebrating the fact that Bush is finally out of the White House!!
    So, stop being party poopers CNN and enjoy the festivities – you'll have plenty of good to cover, so leave the naysaying critics at home (Ben Stein, and the rest of the republican doomsayers).
    Can't you for once stop worrying about what the republicans are going to say and just enjoy the momentous day? You'll lose many viewers when your "panel" starts being spoilsports and Obama bashers.
    Enjoy the inauguration and be happy for our country!

    November 30, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Jeff

    I have a great idea: let everyone in america that wants to contribute do so! Especially corporations (even the ones that have their hands out for bailouts). Then, divide the collected money evenly and distribute to every man woman and child in this country. I bet that would be more "seemly".

    I'm okay with skipping the party on January 20th, what about you?

    November 30, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  6. Helen, NY

    Barack Obama is a joke. He want to have bog show and spend taxpayer's money.

    November 30, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  7. Maureen

    Please go away- and stay away

    November 30, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Ernie

    Obama spent almost $650 Million from supporters and gave ACORN $800,000 and now all of a sudden he wants to save money.

    November 30, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  9. Janey

    Why cut back now? Obama and the Dems have been blowing money as though it grows on trees to showcase the "chosen one". What a joke to pretend that they will "scale down".

    November 30, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. Jaye

    Well, I highly doubt the 2 million that show up in Washington are coming there to be subdued – they're coming there to celebrate history and to celebrate this historic moment and this man that we will call our President!
    And those that stay home and watch live coverage do NOT want to be subjected to gloom and doom and republican rhethoric... they will turn the channel quickly soon as the republican naysayers start spewing their vile innuendo and unwarranted attacks.
    Do yourself a favor CNN – only have guest that are high spirited and happy over this historical event, and leave the critics home.

    November 30, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. JB

    Question for those who think Obama will make everything alright:

    When Obama pursues the Bush foreign policy for the next two years, with no "change", will you make excuses for him, or, will you realize that Bush was doing the right things (minus the war in the first place, but, you either have to believe he had bad intel or, he lied – who knows) and is on the path to resolving all of this? Or, when it does resolve itself without the slightest change in foreign policy, will you continue to bow down before the messiah?

    I ask because that IS exactly what is going to happen. No change in policy. No troops coming home. And, things are going to resolve themselves. Obama will eventually transfer troops to Afghanistan, and continue to resolve things there. Exactly what Bush has set up.

    November 30, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  12. Ed, Santa Fe, NM


    November 30, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Mike

    The Obama Doctrine is already being formulated:

    Ask donations for big events that promote yourself.
    Offer condolences to victims of terrorist attacks but do nothing.
    Create study groups to study problems but do nothing.

    What a sham.

    November 30, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  14. Archie

    Yeh right ! When has any politician held the line ? And Obama is a politician ,nothing more nothing less !

    November 30, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Dorothy in NC

    I think Obama's inauguration should be a joyous and proud celebration. He is a good and descent man, with fresh & new ideas who represents a change that is on the way, a new beginning from the sickening way this country has done business for the past 8 years and for the reputation we have with the rest of the world for allowing it to happen.

    I think Obama deserves a beautiful inauguration day. I don't think it has to be lavish and wasteful. I don't think everyone should by a tuxedo and ball gown but there needs to be dancing in the street.

    November 30, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  16. T

    This incoming adiminstration can serve cheez-whiz on ritz crackers and fruit punch as far as I'm concern, cause the thing I want most is for the exsisting admistration to go bye, bye! I do understand what is being asked of the future adminstration, because I myself have planned to not celebrate Christmas for 2 reasons. The first would be cause I can't afford it, but more importantly because there are so many people who are less fortunate and I don't feel this is a time for anyone to go overboard with any spending as a common courtesy for your fellow man. We are Americans and since there is a new order of business, I feel we could possibly start taking care of each other with kindness and respect, but that's just my take on this very broken economy.

    November 30, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Eric

    Dear Mr. Alexander,

    The pain I have now due to the economy, the 10 trillion dollar deficit, foreclosures, etc. will be faced head on by an incoming president that actually gives a care about my suffering. I dont mind at all that President Elect Obama has an inaugural ceremony that costs millions, hell Im willing to send donations. What I dont want to happen is the media make a mountain out of a mole hill just because it is PE Obama's ceremony. As you stated, 42.8 million was spent for President Bush's second term and we were in a war that we were lied to about, so why not spend a bit more just because we want to rejoice and see better days? As the president for the Taxpayers for Common Sense, I think if you wanted to look out for the tax payers, you should have spoken out a bit sooner on other issues.

    Your thoughts are appreciated, but we see an end to a regime that should have been over 4 years ago. We want to celebrate, and that we will! Thank you

    November 30, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. ramatu

    Would you please allow PRESIDENT OBAMA and his cabinet to use their own discretion as to how they want things handled.This being a historic inauguration,let it be planned as deemed fit if the means is life to live!

    November 30, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. SHAME

    Though it is refreshing to see a incoming admininstration keep a pulse on the people, I hope that tradition and celebration will not be totally forgotten. It appears the limits set will still allow for the American people to celebrate and herald in our new President. Again, another good indiation of things to come from soon to be President Obama and his administration. I am so happy for him and America.

    November 30, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  20. Allen in Hartwell, GA

    I suspect the incoming administration can read the tea leaves about how the media and the public will react to a real blow-out. The outgoing administration couldn't care less...and that's a fact.

    November 30, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. inuk of the north

    This is the time the Obama henchmen and loyalists get their proper reward with appointments to his cabinet and cherry positions in the white house.

    The more things change the more they remain the same with old familiar faces from the Clinton admin popping up all over.

    There is no chance, not a sliver of a chance, that these tired old warmed-over Dems will change a thing in Washington.

    If this cronyism goes any further, look for Dukakis and Carter to get back on the payroll.

    World events are going to eat all these guys for lunch.

    November 30, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. virginia for obama


    November 30, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. Flash Gorden /-\

    It's nice to be considering the economy right now, but, there is also a fine line between that and the historic proportions this event will be! I can understand the "not going over the top" part. Just keep it inline with the significance of the election outcome. I'm sure Obama will/is doing what is best for the American people.

    November 30, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Texas Trail Kitty

    Senator Obama would have to go some to out do the ostentatious inaugral party that Bush and the others have had. In fact, since Bush and the Republican party is largely to blame for this mess, I think it would be an outstanding gesture for them to donate to the festivities as a way of apologizing for causing all this. Just a thought.

    November 30, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. C. E. Pringle

    I believe the price gouging for hotel rooms, transportation, etc. is obscene. Price gouging at gas stations and markets during natural disasters is illegal. Why are these hotels allowed to jack prices to thousands of dollars per night for Inaugurations? Shame on them all. Only the wealthiest people can afford to attend and that's a shame. I'll bet that the 3 auto executives will be there!

    November 30, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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