The President, having recently cancelled White House tours allegedly due to the sequester, is now threatening to cancel another tradition – the White House Easter Egg Roll.
The Egg Roll has been a tradition dating back to 1878, but may become the latest victim of an unnecessary White House cut, all in an attempt to make Americans feel the pain of sequestration.
The next casualty of sequestration could be the Easter Bunny – at least according to a White House e-mail that recently landed in Capitol Hill inboxes.
The White House warned Congress that budget cuts could nix the annual Easter Egg Roll for kids, which is planned for April 1.
“[B]y using these tickets, guests are acknowledging that this event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies,” the White House cautioned, according to two Capitol Hill sources who provided the language. “If cancelled, the event will not be rescheduled.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the egg roll would go forward, although he left open the possibility that that could change.
The administration has faced a backlash from Congress – and late-night comics – for canceling tours of the White House to save money as part of the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, that went into effect March 1. And there has also been criticism that the Easter Egg roll would go forward while the tours are not.
On Friday, Carney got into a contentious back-and-forth on Fox News and said the egg roll is for a lot of military families and it’s paid for by the sale of ceremonial eggs and outside donations. “It’s a totally different budget,” he said. “These are apples and oranges.”
So how much would the President save by cancelling the Egg Roll? It’s tough to say, as they haven’t been willing to cite costs in the past.
However, a USA Today report from 2011 cites people involved in the process. Those individuals indicate that a majority of costs for the Egg Roll are absorbed by donors, while most celebrities perform for free.
Taxpayers do remain on the hook for staffing the event, but even those costs are defrayed via the sale of commemorative eggs.
Whatever the costs, President Obama is using every gimmick possible to create sympathy for the budget cuts brought about by sequestration. But is it any wonder that a man who has never been in charge of a business or a budget in his lifetime would find it difficult to budget in $18,000 per week for White House tours, or find a way to fund an Easter tradition over 130 years old?