Sunday, January 23, 2011

GOP: Public Safety on the Chopping Block

The Ripple Effect from Federal Budget Cuts Will Impact Law Enforcement on All Levels

According to the Washington Post, reducing the size of the government is the top priority of many GOP lawmakers who were swept into Congress last fall on a tide of public anger about the rising national debt and federal spending on the economy.

Some of those dramatic reductions will come at the expense of public safety. The cuts will not only effect federal law enforcement, but also the money that is filtered down to local law enforcement agencies through U.S. Department of Justice grant programs.

According to Democratic estimates, the cuts if applied across the board would require the Justice Department to fire 4,000 FBI agents and 1,500 agents at the Drug Enforcement Administration. The federal prison system would have to fire 5,700 correctional officers, and the Head Start early-childhood education program would be forced to cut about 389,000 children from its rolls. Many believe that early education programs have a direct impact on crime rates.

The loss of federal law enforcement funding for local municipalities will mean mass lay-offs of local police officers and a reduction in crime fighting and crime prevention programs. With state budget deficits at or near crisis level in many states the public safety picture is bleak.

"I think most freshmen feel like I do, that we've got to do some big, big things," Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.), told the Post. "If we don't do something like this, the Republican Party is going to be in trouble electorally in the next two years. The voters sent us here to do this."

Congressman Walsh's quote really brings to light what the cuts are really about, not necessarily what is good for the nation, but what is good for the GOP in 2012.

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