Funding for First Responders

In his speech in Detroit, President Bush said, “Now, all budgets have got to be based on priorities, and mine are clear: The government’s most solemn duty is to defend and protect the American people. In a time of war, we will always provide our military and homeland security personnel with the tools they need to do their jobs.”

First of all, the president probably should not reference the 2006 budget in the same sentence as the current wars as neither the cost for Iraq nor Afghanistan military operations are in the budget.

In terms of first responders, Bush is seeking to decimate vital funding for police officers and firefighters. For example, the administration’s budget “would slice a $600 million grant program for local police agencies to $60 million next year.” Grants to local firefighters would be cut by $215 million dollars.

With regards to funding homeland security, “the bulk of increased Homeland Security discretionary spending derives from fees such as hefty airline passenger security charges, rather than government coffers.” Looking only at “the department’s net discretionary budget authority,” President Bush in actuality only called for an extremely modest one percent increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Also, the budget decreased funding for intelligence, infrastructure protection and grants to cities and states.

It is not just the initial response that will be lacking in necessary resources. The budget will cut a “range of public health programs, including several to protect the nation against bioterrorist attacks and to respond to medical emergencies.” Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be reduced by 9 percent under Bush’s plan. Specifically, “the public health emergency fund of the [CDC], which helps state and local agencies prepare for bioterrorist attacks, would be cut 12.6 percent.”