Firefighters and police lined up behind President Obama on Feb. 19, when he made a speech at the White House blaming House Republicans for not preventing automatic budget cuts he and Congress had agreed to before. “Emergency responders like the ones who are here today,” the president said, “their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded.” He cited other calamities too: less border protection, letting criminals go instead of prosecuting them, teachers being laid off, and parents unable to find day care. It’s hard to see how all that can result from a slowing in the overall increase of federal spending. But just how is the federal budget linked to local fire departments?
Here’s how. Last August, the Albany Fire Department reported it had received approval of a $1.2 million federal grant in order to hire six firefighters for two years. It planned to fill three jobs left vacant because of local budget constraints and hire three more.
You may recall that the government now has to borrow 40 cents of every dollar it spends. Remember, too, that the federal debt, more than $16 trillion, will keep growing because the national government — under many presidents and congresses — has promised far more than it can deliver. And one small part of this mistake is filling out the routine payroll of towns like Albany all over the U.S.
Obama lined up those uniforms as props to support more spending. They also were a symbol of a federal budget policy that Obama has made worse. (hh)