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Editorial: Closing the White House to the public an unfortunate move

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

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The Daily Campus

After March 10, the White House is closing its doors to the public. The reasoning for closing one of the cornerstones of our government to its citizens is austerity measures. The Secret Service decided it could not afford the security to guard the Executive residence, and so the programs have been cut.

This brings up the question of how much White House tours actually cost the Secret Service. The Secret Service budget for 2013 comes out to $1.67 billion. The White House tours come out to $2 million. A little arithmetic reveals that the $2 million comes out to 0.12 percent of the Secret Service budget. But if the purpose for saving money is some semblance of “economic solidarity,” then it fails.

It fails because it is a rather obvious ploy. The decision not to allow White House tours comes as a public message, “Look how bad things are for the government, we can’t even afford this small luxury.” But if we are cutting things to begin to afford tangible government services, the White House tours do not even approach the issue.

These tours cost the Secret Service 0.12 percent of their budget. But those $2 million comes to 0.00005 percent of the total government budget. It brings a whole new meaning to the expression “drops in the bucket.”

This cut is part of the official “sequester,” a group built to cut federal spending, taking effect on March 1. The Sequester is looking for areas to cut, evenly splitting them between domestic and defense programs, and are aiming at perceived luxuries like White House public tours that ultimately cost nothing in comparison to the billions afforded to the defense department.

Even if the Secret Service’s pay was increased, costing the government $3 million, this is still pennies to the dollar when considering the entire national debt. The percentage of savings is so low that it is simply not worth the sacrifice to our democratic institutions. What a shame.

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