The Obama Center Can Afford More Than $1 Rent, by Mark Glennon

The Obama Center is not going to a presidential library, it’s going to be Obama’s base for his continuing political operations. So why are taxpayers subsidizing it? From Mark Glennon at WirePoints via zerohedge.com:

It’s a political ‘institute,’ not a presidential library. So taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for anything…

When Barack Obama announced he would forgo a presidential library, the news was trumpeted as a win for good government. Instead, Mr. Obama would open an official center on Chicago’s South Side, funded entirely with private money. One author at Politico, who called presidential libraries a “scam,” wrote that Mr. Obama “will rip off the band-aid, removing government from what it has no business paying for.”

Now comes news that Illinois taxpayers will put up at least $174 million for roadway and transit reconfigurations needed to accommodate the Obama Center. If you don’t live in Illinois, you may be smirking – but you’ll be footing the bill, too. Eighty percent of such spending is generally reimbursed by the federal government, and Illinois officials confirmed to me that they expect to receive $139 million from Washington if they request it.

All that taxpayer money – and for what? Originally, Chicagoans imagined they’d be getting a true presidential library, akin to those they might have visited for Ronald Reagan in California or John F. Kennedy in Boston. But unlike those libraries, the Obama Center won’t be run by the National Archives and Records Administration. It won’t even house Mr. Obama’s records, artifacts and papers, which will be digitized and available online. Instead the center will be owned and operated by the Obama Foundation.

This wasn’t always the plan. In a 2014 request for proposal, the Obama Foundation said that the planned presidential library “will include an Institute that will enhance the pursuit of the President’s initiatives beyond 2017.” This institute now seems to have taken over the project. As the Chicago Tribune reported in February: “Obama said he envisions his center as a place where young people from around the world can meet each other, get training and prepare to become the next generation of leaders.” No doubt, his definition of “leaders” will be political.

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