• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • More 'Stimulus' Spending on Failed Public Safety Grant Programs

    President Obama’s plan for turning America around is big on new spending, with insincere promises of budget cuts to come later. In particular, the President called on Congress to spend an additional $5 billion on federal subsidies for the salaries of local police officers and firefighters.

    The additional $5 billion would be allocated to the “hiring” grant program operated by Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program administered by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

    We’ve seen this playbook before. In 2009, the stimulus bill allocated hundreds of millions of new spending on COPS and SAFER grants. These federal taxpayer dollars were used not to hire additional police officers and firefighters but to pay for the salaries of currently employed police officers and firefighters.

    Created in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s first term, COPS promised to add 100,000 new state and local law enforcement officers on the streets by 2000. Research by The Heritage Foundation has demonstrated that COPS failed to add 100,000 additional officers to America’s streets and was ineffective at reducing crime.

    Despite millions in grants across the United States, FEMA’s SAFER grant program has not reduced the number of deaths and injuries resulting from fires. A Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis Report found that SAFER grants that subsidize the salaries of firefighters had no impact reducing firefighter and civilian deaths and injuries. Fire departments that did not receive federal grants were just as successful at preventing fire casualties as grant-funded fire departments.

    State and local officials, not the federal government, are responsible for funding the staffing levels of police and fire departments. By paying for the salaries of police officers and firefighters, COPS and SAFER fund the routine, day-to-day functions of police and fire departments. In Federalist No. 45, James Madison wrote:

    The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.

    When Congress subsidizes local public safety agencies in this manner, it effectively reassigns to the federal government the powers and responsibilities that fall squarely within the expertise, historical control, and constitutional authority of state and local governments. The responsibility to combat ordinary crime and respond to fires and other similar emergencies at the local level belongs wholly, if not exclusively, to state and local governments.

    The COPS and SAFER programs have an extensive track record of poor performance and should be eliminated. These grants also unnecessarily perform functions that are the responsibility of state and local governments. Massive new spending on these programs in the 2009 stimulus bill failed to boost economic activity, so why is President Obama calling for a repeat performance?

    The answer is simple: The President’s proposal is another sop to the police and firefighter unions. Our nation can no longer afford such wasteful and unwarranted spending.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to More 'Stimulus' Spending on Failed Public Safety Grant Programs

    1. SoapyJohnson says:

      A reminder of how popular the first stimulus bill was … http://placeitonluckydan.com/2011/03/how-popular-

    2. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Yeah, but it's ok for the GOP to give 3.9 Billion to the Oil Industry as a subsidy every year while they're making record profits.

      • Lloyd Scallan says:

        Jeff – Another brilliant comment. 3.9 billion well spent. What you leftist fail to understand is that the "oil industry" touches every aspect of our lives, not just gasoline for our vehicles. Tell us Jeff, how many "shovel ready" jobs did Obama's first stimulus bill "save or create".

        • Jeff, Illinois says:

          Why don't you ask the auto industry . . !! Also how many more jobs would have been lost in general without the stimulus. Remember the jobs TREND when Obama came in . . As a nation we went from 700, 000 jobs lost a month to a net positive trend. This was not any old recession . . this was an economic disaster . . It was going to take many years to get things turned around . . Where's the GOP jobs plan . . "" Just give tax cuts to the job creators "" Trickle down economics under Bush et. al. would have worked if that plan has merit . . Lloyd, where's your brilliance . . I guess Corporate welfare is fine . . You "Rightist" are on the exact wrong side of every issue . . and what's worse . . . you can't see your hypocrisy . . History will ultimate show the populace is more important than corporations and sold out republican politicians to the Koch brothers and other self-centered billiionares.

    3. dam1953 says:

      Jeffie boy…

      The GOP didn't "give" the oil industry a subsidy for anything. The depletion allowances were passed nearly a century ago, under a Democrat controlled house in 1913. By the way, the illustrious progressive Woodrow Wilson was President at the time.

      If this issue of such great importance why didn't Democrats abolish the program when they controlled the House, Senate and White House just two short years ago.

    4. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Obama is calling for a "repeat performance" because he has an agenda to bring about total government control (socialism) of our lives by crippling our economical system. His "sop" to unions is just another tool that he will use to bring about his final desired results.

    5. Linda says:

      Obama just doesn't get it. His only policies are to support public sector union workers, who then contribute OUR money to his campaign. If there is anyone who has the courage to do it, challenge him on this. He wants to spend another $500 billion to improve the economy by spending money on schools (unions), roads and bridges (unions), firefighters and policemen (unions). These are all public sector unions. Aren't these the same people people who received the benefit of the last stimulus? This time, Congress make it mandatory that all of the stimulus go to non-union jobs, such as building schools, roads, bridges, etc. The private sector does a much better job of this anyway. Then sit back and watch the reaction of the Democrats, Obama, and the media. They would say every nasty thing they could think of about this type of proposal.
      For the icing on the cake, raise the question to the complainers, do you want to help the jobless and the economy or do you want to give more money to the unions? Wouldn't this put them in the box?

    6. GRP1953 says:

      Unfortunately Linda Obama does get it and that is exactly what he is trying to do.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.