Our View: What you’re actually paying for at the inauguration

DKS Editors

Summary: You might not be paying for the inaugural ball, but you’re paying for the inaugural bison meat.

It’s a debate we have at every inauguration: is the inaugural celebration really worth all the money that’s being put into it? We know that our tax money will inevitably pay for things like security and public transportation (especially if you’re living in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas), but how much of our money is going to unnecessary extravagances?

This year’s go-to example of wasteful spending seems to be the 2013 Inaugural Luncheon Menu, featuring three courses of delicacies such as hickory smoked bison and lobster tails. And yes, taxpayers are footing the bill for the lavish luncheon.

The total cost of this year’s inauguration hasn’t been announced, but the money can be split up into three sources. Though most of the events surrounding the ceremony are covered by the Presidential Inaugural Committee — which covers the parades, balls and concerts and gets its money from private donations — the Congressional luncheon doesn’t fall under that category. Instead it’s lumped in with the actual swearing-in ceremony, which is paid for by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC). The JCCIC is paid for with taxpayer dollars.

Don’t freak out just yet. For the 2009 inaugural ceremony, the JCCIC’s budget was around $1.2 million. This was only about .8% of the $150 million total inauguration cost, and this year’s total cost is supposed to be lower. Still, in light of our $16 trillion in national debt and the fiscal cliff fiasco, it sends a bad message to the nation when some of our tax money is being spent on things like hickory smoked bison. We don’t think our government’s elite would suffer from just dining on chicken instead.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.