NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 10, 2007

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposes cutting Homeland Security funding almost 60 percent to $1.4 billion in fiscal-year 2009 from $3.4 billion this fiscal year.  Critics complain the cuts would affect grants for big cities like New York and Los Angeles and eliminate some port and rail security programs.

While there's too much pork-barrel spending in post-9/11 security grants, this proposal cuts too close to the bone, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).  Trims can be obtained by concentrating funds in the higher-risk cities, rather than spreading them out to low-risk cities, where politicians earn points for bringing home bacon while doing little to actually protect the nation from terrorism.

The New York Daily News points out that Washington, in the name of the war on terror, has shamelessly larded homeland-security grants with pork, including:

  • $202,200 for 80 surveillance cameras for Dillingham, Alaska (pop. 2,000).
  • $30,000 for a visitors' trailer at the Mushroom Festival in Madisonville, Texas.
  • $36,000 to help the Kentucky Office of Charitable Gaming "prevent terrorists from trying to raise money for their plots at the state's bingo halls."
  • $3,000 for a "secure trailer" to carry riding lawn mowers to races in Converse, Texas.

The government needs to be more efficient about how it spends homeland security funds, and OMB chief Jim Nussle deserves credit for taking the lead on curbing overspending.

So cut the waste, yes, but don't cut wholesale, says IBD.  We need more, not fewer, eyeballs and video cameras in subway stations and airport terminals in high-profile, heavily populated cities.  We also need more inspectors at the nation's ports of entry, both to check radioactive cargo and Muslims coming in from Europe via terror training camps in Pakistan.

Source: Editorial, "Cut Security Pork Only," Investor's Business Daily, December 7, 2007.


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