Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Influence-Peddling Inauguration

The the total cost of the inauguration is estimated to be more than $150 million. In comparison, Bush's 2005 swearing-in 'only' cost $42 million. Of that total amount, which some estimate at $170 million, 'only' $45 million come from private donors, but about 80% of these donations come from only some 200 wealthy bundlers, many of the them from Wall Street, according to a report by Public Citizen, The Presidential Inauguration, Brought to You by the Few, the Wealthy:
"It’s no wonder that Wall Street is pouring so much money into this inauguration," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. "The executive branch has given bailouts worth trillions of dollars to Wall Street firms and is considering trillions more. Wall Street has a lot at stake. ...

"No doubt many donors give simply because they want to be part of history," said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. "But donors and bundlers who represent special interests with business pending before the government and who dole out five-figure checks to the inaugural committee usually want a seat at the table with the new administration. ...

"The inauguration is the last chance for big donors to throw money at the feet of the president," said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. "Inaugural festivities should not be a day of influence-peddling. The inauguration should be a time for peaceful transition in government, paid for with public funds.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, Obama's Inauguration, Sponsored by the Few, the Wealthy, Holman provides some more background:
And what do you suppose Wall Street wants in return for all this, for paying for all these activities? It’s pretty clear. I mean, Wall Street is right in the middle of the largest bailout program we’ve ever seen of the financial sector. Obama is going to be presiding over that bailout program in just a matter of a couple hours. And it’s Wall Street that wants a seat at Obama’s table, when it comes to deciding the nature of the bailout program.
As noted yesterday, there is overwhelming evidence that the 'bailout' has failed to encourage lending, and that Obama is committed to continue this form of corporate welfare at the expense of taxpayers. The way the inauguration has been financed provides further evidence.

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