Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Bush's Budget Cuts Grants To Police, Firefighters

President Bush's $2.5 trillion budget cuts money for police officers and fire fighters -- in opposition to earlier statements by the president.

According to figures obtained by the Associated Press, Bush would slice a $600 million grant program for local police agencies to $60 million next year. One likely casualty would be Edward Byrne grants that allow police departments to hire replacements for officers working on drug task forces. Additional money would be cut from a program that provides grants to police departments to buy new technology and improve interoperable communications

Grants to local firefighters, under the Assistance to Firefighters Program, for which Congress provided $715 million this year, would fall to $500 million. The program, commonly called the FIRE Act, provides equipment, training, and staffing to local fire departments.

"This [2005] budget is profoundly disappointing to first responders ... It's a continuation of the president's lack of commitment to first responders in general and firefighters in particular," said Kevin O'Connor, director of governmental and public affairs for the International Association of Firefighters.

According to an investigation by The Boston Globe, more than 40 percent of the nation's full-time fire departments fail to meet the response time standard of six minutes from alert to arrival, often because of insufficient staffing. From 1986 to 2002, more than 4,000 people died in fires when firefighters had a response time greater than six minutes.

***

It's another case of actions speaking louder than words, a frequent criticism of this president. Bush has spent a good chunk of his post-9/11 presidency touting touting his administration's efforts in homeland security. But when it comes time to back those words with money, Bush quietly changes his tune.

This is the same president who said, in remarks at the NYPD Command and Control Center in February, 2002: "Police and firefighters of New York, you have this nation's respect, and you'll have this nation's support." He touted his administration's future spending plans so that first responders would be able to "help us continue to fight this war on terror" and make "neighborhoods ... more safe in the long run."

***

But this isn't the first time the Bush administration has failed to follow through with first responders.

Just a year ago, the debate was very similar.

The Department of Homeland Security FY 2005 budget drew bipartisan criticism for various programs it cut completely — such as funding for SafeComm, a grant program to help ensure that first responder communications are interoperable — as well as those it scaled back dramatically, such as the 30 percent cut in key grant programs to first responders.

At the time, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge defended the funding proposals, saying the administration took a hard look at the realities of the times and made tough choices “by the balancing of the fiscal and security environment.”

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why isn't this front page news across the land?
I wonder where is the New York Post, which insisted Kerry could not even be considered for president because Bush would be the one to bend over backwards to protect New York City from another terrorist attack.
Why aren't we hearing from those who insisted Bush was the tougher candidate to embolden homeland security and to toughen the police and fire departments to protect America.
All those billions spent on the Iraq War won't mean a goddamned thing towards "the war on terrorism" if we aren't protected on our own shores.
Here we have more proof Bush was elected based on a bed of lies.
Come on Right-wingers. Why so silent on this topic?
Um, I forgot. Call Bush anything but a flip-flopper.

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is yet another example of how the left thinks, ie. one can only guage another's level of concern by the amount of money proposed for it in a budget. There is $500,000,000 in this proposal, which is 1/2 of a BILLION dollars. Maybe the $715M from last year included some one time costs that are no longer needed. Maybe the funding from the last few years has decreased the overall need. Regardless, a great example of liberals on being able to express their desires in terms of dollars that the federal government can give out.

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think it is fair to say that many on both sides of the aisle have been questioning Bush's committment to following up on his promises. (of course virtually every politician promises things that never happen--but that doesnt make it right). It seems to me that homeland security can be handled better.

That said, i have no idea if that means more money, better management, more spies, whatever....i admit i am not in a position to fully understand that.

But it is fair to question the president on what is such an important issue for our country. just as it is fair to question our foreign policy.

however, you may as well ignore the liberal posturing on every single thing bush does---doesnt matter what it is, they will never miss an opportunity to jump all over him. If he spends money, it is money we dont have. or it is money better spent elsewhere. or they will suggest that the money we spent on iraq should go to the homefront. if there were no iraq, they would say it about something else. on one hand, they blame Bush for overspending and then complain for underspending. noone knows what the hell they are talking about.

i think there are just people who believe that money grows on trees for certain programs but we have to borrow and increase our deficit for others.

all that aside, i believe we need to do more to sure up the homefront but how to do it isnt easy--borders (but neither side wants to deal with illegal aliens), ID cards (but then you have the ACLU among others to deal with), foreign policy (everyone is split and the deficit is growing). hmm.....seems there is no simplistic answer other than EVERYTHING BUSH DOES IS AUTOMATICALLY WRONG. That works for the democratic party, as presently constructed.

So sad is our state of politics in this country. It is depressing. And the liberals and the conservatives are equally to blame. the republicans are showing themselves to be power-mad now that they have (what could be fleeting) control over congress. the democrats are plain stupid as they cant figure out how to make progress and would rather fall into the party that opposes everything (and choose the worst people to speak out for the party). Ugh, sickening.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone see bil maher on scarboro country. was interesting and disturbing. bill maher said that religion is basically a neurological disorder that much of the public has. and that it is stupid and causes all the problems.

i like maher although he is extreme. he at least can come out and say that the iraq elections represented a new chance for iraq and was a good thing. many others wont simply admit that. and he says that and still hates bush. he is refreshing although a bit disturbed.

7:15 PM  
Anonymous tonyb said...

The point is that Bush goes around saying he is a friend of police and fire, but his budget says otherwise.

The fact is that Bush has not provided the funding that Congress wanted either in the FY 2005 or FY 2006 budgets. And both times, Bush has received bipartisan criticism, as well as criticism from the leaders of the police and firefighter associations.

I don't see this as a liberal issue or a conservative issue. It's a matter of backing up what you say with actions. Like Kerry said in the campaign, it's wrong taht we have money to open fire stations in Iraq, but not to keep fire stations open in the U.S.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few of the comments above appear to suggest you cannot measure the value of policies for homeland security and police/fire merely by the amount of money thrown at them. I think David's entire point -- substantiated by those in the know of which he attributed information -- is that the funding would not be adequate to make the necessary improvements.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what improvements?

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When did it become a federal responsibility to fund local police and fire departments? Education?

8:55 PM  
Anonymous joe said...

I believe that the fire and police grants were established as part of Homeland Security, in response to 9/11.

The problem, as I see it, is that when Bush has a photo-op with a fire department or police squad, he's suggesting he's this friend of first responders. He talks about it in speeches. He leads people to believe that he's behind them 100%. But then when it comes time to provide the earlier agreed-to funding, Bush disappears.

The fire and police associations know this, but since it doesn't appear on the evening news, the rest of America is left with those visually pleasing, but nonetheless hypocritical photo-ops.

1:17 PM  

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