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  1. Opinion

Editorial: Speechless: $94,360

As a taxpayer himself, President Barack Obama should be outraged that the American people paid $94,360 so a stage could be hastily erected for his visit two weeks ago to Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base. Elite Productions provided the stage, audio and visual equipment — and let's not forget, the drapery — in a contract that was not put out to bid to seek the lowest price. The government blamed tight deadlines, saying that only Elite could do the job that fast. Really? MacDill, the headquarters of Central Command, certainly has hosted a dignitary or two in its day. Isn't there a stage lying around somewhere? No wonder there is so little trust in government to spend wisely. In an austere time when most Americans are still feeling pinched, that amount — nearly $100,000 — is a lot of money. How much?

• What the Obamas themselves paid in federal income taxes this year would barely have covered the cost. They paid $98,169 in taxes on an income of $481,098.

• In the Tampa Bay area, it would take the total income taxes paid by about 30 median households to come up with the cash.

• With a starting salary of $40,000, it would take nearly the entire gross income of 2½ Pinellas teachers to pay the bill.

• Someone earning Florida's minimum wage of $7.93 would have to work 11,899 hours, or more than five years of 40-hour work weeks, to gross that amount of money.

• It wouldn't be so hard on George Soros, who Forbes says made $4 billion last year with his hedge fund. Assuming a standard work week, he would have to put in about three minutes to come up with the cash.

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