An editorial from
The New York TimesWhen George Bush is inaugurated in January, it will cost him more than it cost Ronald Reagan. Thanks to William Proxmire, the Wisconsin watchdog, John Q. Taxpayer will no longer pay to help stage private functions on the new president's big first day.
Senator Proxmire, who thrives on exposing frivolous federal spending, asked the General Accounting Office to audit expenses on the public tab for private parties, concerts and other tangential activities at the last three inaugurations.
The cost of "free" military escorts, chauffeurs, coat checkers, photographers and the like totaled $15.5 million at President Reagan's second inauguration in 1985. Most of the money paid for 8,400 military personnel, some of whom served as personal drivers for members of the inaugural committee for up to six weeks before, during and after the main event.
Armed with these findings, Mr. Proxmire got a stop clause incorporated in this year's defense authorization and spending bills; next time the government will be reimbursed by the inaugural committee. The clause also makes these duties voluntary. If a marine doesn't want to mix and mingle with celebrities next Jan. 21, he or she won't be required to.
Frivolous federal spenders may rejoice that Senator Proxmire, having hectored them for three decades, is retiring at the end of the year. Taxpayers may weep.