[Paleopsych] WT: (Homeland Security Pork) Veronique de Rugy: What's Kerry's plan?
checker at panix.com
Wed Oct 6 14:20:06 UTC 2004
Veronique de Rugy: What's Kerry's plan?
Published October 6, 2004
[Mr. Mencken would be very pleased at the predictable pork barrell.
Predictably, too, very little security money is being on cyberterrorism.
Does anyone know where one can get a summary of the various opinions on
this issue. *Can* the Internet be crippled, for example, by massive denial
of service attacks?]
On the rare occasions that presidential candidate John Kerry talks
about homeland security, he criticizes President Bush for not spending
enough money on it. This is surprising because proposed funding of
homeland security for fiscal year 2005 is $47 billion, a staggering
180 percent increase since 2001. Mr. Kerry's knee-jerk instinct to
spend more is hardly unusual. Too many politicians in Washington focus
on the level of spending and very few bother considering the quality
Homeland security should be different. The nation is not
endangered when politicians misallocate highway funds, but there will
be deadly consequences if cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment
take a back seat to pork barrel antics when anti-terrorism funds are
allocated. Fortunately, some lawmakers are beginning to focus on
quality over quantity. House leaders, for instance, want to overhaul
the way the federal government distributes anti-terrorism funds. The
Senate, meanwhile, stopped Democrats from adding $20 billion to the
$33 billion fiscal year 2005 homeland security spending bill.
Cost-benefit analysis is difficult because homeland security
spending continues to be an elusive figure. A large portion of
homeland security spending -- $20 billion -- takes place outside of
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), much of it through agencies
known for chronic wasteful spending. Moreover, only $27 billion of the
DHS's $40 billion budget will go to homeland security activities. The
remaining $13 billion will finance non-homeland security activities
like the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) food and shelter
This haphazard budget system is useful to politicians. Spending
initiatives that Congress did not approve when they were outside of
DHS are likely to sail through because of their DHS affiliation. For
instance, the Senate recently attached $2.9 billion to the fiscal year
2005 homeland security bill in disaster aid for farm states.
Thankfully, Republicans blocked Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from
New Jersey, from adding another $100 million for fishing enforcement
and Coast Guard boater assistance.
More worrisome, much of homeland security money is spent on grants
to state and local governments that won't have any impact on
terrorism. The formula used by DHS to spread federal funds provides
every state with a guaranteed minimum amount regardless of risk or
need. So, states in rural areas receive a disproportionate amount of
grant money. Incredibly, among the top 10 money-receiving states, only
the District of Columbia also appears on a list of the top 10 most
And while state officials are fighting over who will get the
biggest share of the security money, reports demonstrate that they are
spending these grants on pet projects that have little to do with
homeland security. The District used the region's first wave of DHS
aid to fund leather jackets for its police force, a computerized car
towing system from the mayor's wish list and summer jobs programs.
While Democrats seem content with the status quo, even hoping to
increase the cash flows allocated in this manner, House Homeland
Security Committee Chairman Chris Cox, a Republican from California,
is fighting to change the criteria used to allocate these funds so
that they are based on the risk of terrorist attacks and the magnitude
of potential damages. But, Democrats like Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy
of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, treat these
funds like another entitlement program and vehemently oppose this
Finally, large amounts are directed to addressing risks that are
obsolete, which is unlikely the most efficient use of federal
resources. After September 11, Congress rushed to federalize security
screeners at almost all U.S. airports by creating the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA). Three years after the federal takeover,
the 45,000-employee bureaucracy has been inundated with complaints
about its performance including a DHS audit that showed that passenger
screening by the TSA doesn't keep explosives and weapons off
commercial aircraft. This is not trivial since the bureaucracy will
cost $5.3 billion in fiscal year 2005.
Pointing out TSA's failures, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman
John Mica, Republican of Florida, advocates the return of all airport
security screener jobs to the private sector. By law, this November
airport managers will be allowed to ask for private screeners under
federal supervision. Yet Democrats, who have been aggressively trying
to create as many new unionized federal employees as they could,
already announced that they will stop airports from booting TSA's
workers. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York, even introduced a
bill to repeal the opt-out provision.
Spreading pork, opposing rational cost-benefit analysis and
creating unionized federal employees won't make us safer. Is it too
much to ask that homeland security spending actually have some
connection with policies that reduce the threat of terrorism? Is
creating union jobs more important than having the best screeners
possible? Let's hope Mr. Kerry is forced to answer these questions
during the second presidential debate.
Veronique de Rugy is a research scholar at the American Enterprise
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