Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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A Government Takeover, a Marriage of Convenience

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Reports from Washington and the campaign trail have congressional Democrats talking tough about a heath-insurance “public option”.  

Harry Reid promised it, over the weekend, at the Netroots gathering in Las Vegas. Closer to home, a pair of Bay Area Democrats (Reps. Pete Stark and Lynn Woolsey) are talking up a public-option bill which, they claim, will save taxpayers some $68 billion and cut premiums 5-7%.  

With all due respect, I think there’s another industry sitting out there that’s ripe for a government takeover.  

One that affects the lives of millions of Americans of all persuasions.  

An industry that’s divided us into a nation of have’s and have’s not.  

I’m talking, of course, about . . . the runaway costs of weddings.  

Chelsea Clinton: a $3 million wedding?

According to the New York Daily News, Chelsea Clinton’s trip down the aisle this weekend at a private estate about 90 miles north of Manhattan will cost the former First Couple anywhere from $3-5 million.  

As the NYDN notes, the bottom end of that estimate would put Chelsea’s fete somewhere between the nuptials of Liza Minnelli and David Gest ($3.5 million) and those of Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes ($2 million).  

So what to make of this? Are the Clintons simply living large, thanks to a very prosperous post-presidency?  

Or, is there something more sinister afoot?  

Are the Clintons, like many Americans struggling to get by in this great land of ours during these hard time, being fleeced for basic services (food, flowers, music etc.) by an industry that’s driven by profit and seemingly cares little for the burdens they place on working households?  

If so, isn’t it time the government stepped in and made weddings a more affordable right for all Americans?  

Clearly, we have a private-sector monster on our hands. According to We tv’s Wedding Report (this is Oprah’s network, and you know Oprah wouldn’t lie about something so important to women), the average cost of a wedding has increased 21.9% over the past year, from $19,581 to $23,867.45.  

The breakdown:  

“Planner/Consultant A La Carte Services (up 84.2% at $1,171), Gift/s for the Bride (up 53.1% at $253), and Planner/Consultant For Getting Started (up 50.4% at $920) saw the biggest gain in spending. Other Jewelry (down 61.7% at $304), Reception Accessories (down 55.3% at $200), and Ceremony Accessories (down 49.7% at $207) saw the biggest decline in spending.  

The biggest difference was the increase in demand for products and services. 53 products and services saw gains in demand, 4 saw no change, while 13 saw declines. Other Travel/Transportation (up 178.6%), Musician/s, Soloist, or Ensemble (up 66.7%), and Other Jewelry (up 65.2%) saw the biggest gain in demand. Facial (down 15.2%), Manicure & Pedicure (down 8.4%), and Teeth Whitening (down 8.1%) saw the biggest decline in demand.”  

Here’s where I think the Obama Administration can get busy.  

Wedding Czar Bridezilla?

Step one: create a new office of federal Wedding Czar. Kenneth Feinberg’s already booked. So offer the job to a Democrat out of work come the first Tuesday in November. Trust me, there’ll be a bunch of them. Or, give it to someone from the White House’s long-suffering economic brain trust.  Unlucky at recoveries, luckier at love, we hope.

Even better, the President can task this responsibility to Star Jones, late of “The View” and one of the nation’s all-time “Bridezillas”.  

Step two: congressional hearings. Get those planners and consultants before Henry Waxman, to defend their profit margins. Surely, there’s a Tony Hayward who will play into the Administration’s hands as a prickly boss/p.r. dufus.  

Step three: class warfare. If the wealthy think they can get away with multi-million $$ “Cadillac” wedding plans, they’re going to pay for it through the nose — and champagne flute.  

And forget about sneaking north across the border for cheaper services. Apparently, weddings in Canada are just as steep as here in the U.S.    

For a struggling president, a federal takeover of weddings could offer real political advantage. Consider the impact on angry male voters — not soccer dads, mind you, but fathers of the bride.  As pollster Scott Rasmussen has noted, the angriest of America’s angry are males making $60,000-$100,000 a year. You don’t think they’re sweating out their children’s marriage costs?  

And there’s the President testy relationship with the town of Las Vegas.  It began long ago with Obama holding up junkets to Sin City as an example of corporate excess. Obama could easily turn that around by talking up Vegas as a wedding destination (maybe even toss in a one-time tax credit for couples that agree to take their vows on The Strip).  

It might help save Harry Reid’s job. It might keep a blue state from going back into the red column in 2012.  

One final note: all politics are local . . . and, sometimes personal. This President just happens to be the father of two young girls. He may not be going to Chelsea’s wedding, but I bet the price tag has caught his eye.


Written by Bill Whalen

July 27, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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