If the "big bad sequester" is as terrible as President Obama says, why is he hosting a concert at the White House?
This Tuesday evening (April 9), there is a "Memphis Soul" concert taking place at the White House, featuring some of music's biggest stars, including Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, and Al Green.
Concerts in this "In Performance at the White House" series have taken place in the past (Tuesday night's will be the 10th such event during Obama’s time in office), and have gone on to be broadcast on PBS stations across the country. I have enjoyed some of them myself, and I appreciate the president wanting to help other Americans and people around the world see some of the best performers the United States has to offer.
But in this case, considering the current budgetary restraints, should the show go on?
In the weeks and days leading up to the start of sequestration, Obama made the case many times that the sequester would cause pain for millions of American families. And after Congress failed to reach a deal to stop the sequester, he closed the White House to tours, meaning that school children on field trips and even wounded veterans are no longer allowed to go into "the People's House" without a special invitation from the President or First Lady.
President Obama has tried to back-track on the issue by suggesting the Secret Service is to blame for the closure of White House tours. However, President Obama's own press secretary made the following statement, refuting Obama’s attempt to take the heat off of himself, "We had to cancel the tours. It's our job to cancel the tours ... so the White House, as we have said, canceled the tours." That statement was made on March 13. Less than a month after President Obama had to make the "unfortunate" decision to furlough secret service personnel and close White House tours, he’s hosting some of music’s biggest names for an exorbitant evening.
If the White House is unable to afford operational costs to allow for public tours, logic says that it should not be able to afford a day of festivities and a night of music live-streamed around the world. With many Americans affected by the sequester unable to afford to take their own families to concerts, President Obama is out of touch and insensitive to carry on in such a way with millions struggling just to make it by.