New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D) used the Saturday attack in London to complain about President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts, particularly as they relate to what Schumer calls “anti-terrorism” funding:
Amazingly, with terrorism on the rise, President Trump actually proposed cutting vital anti-terrorism funding in his #TrumpBudget last week.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 4, 2017
Disregarding for a second how tacky it is to play politics on the heels of the deaths of seven people and a dawning realization that the killings are not going to stop unless some hard decisions get made (we are all starting to come to that, are we not?), Schumer’s complaint is also tacky for another reason:
One of the grant programs being cut — The Urban Area Security Initiative (USAI) — is a grant program that allows large cities to allocate funds based on their unique security needs. Trump’s budget proposal cuts funding for the program by 25%, to just $448 million, according to the New York Daily News.
But here’s the thing: the USAI was pegged as far back as 2011 as a project difficult to provide oversight to and monitor for effectiveness. David Mulhausen, a research fellow in empirical policy analysis at the Heritage Foundation, spoke with Homeland Security Newswire six years ago and expressed his concerns:
Homeland Security NewsWire: You recently called into question a report by the National Urban Area Initiative Association that detailed the effectiveness of DHS’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant program. Given your thoughts on the report, in your opinion has UASI been an effective use of federal funds?
David Muhlhausen: Currently, there appears to be a virtual absence of independent, objective evidence indicating the effectiveness of UASI. The absence of evidence does not mean that the program is effective or ineffective. We simply do not have valid information on the program’s effectiveness.
In fairness to Schumer, Trump’s budget proposes to cut funding to other security measures as well according, to the Daily News:
But in addition to cutting UASI, Trump’s budget plan also proposes slashing by 75% the State Homeland Security Grant Program, which provides anti-terrorism funds to schools, museums, stadiums, religious and community centers, as well as eliminating entirely the Nonprofit Security Grant, which gives non-profits and religious institutions money to protect themselves against hate crimes.
It’s worthwhile to debate ramping up funding for security versus cutting it in the age of terrorism we currently inhabit. But if a program is difficult to measure for deliverables, perhaps cutting funding and starting with a specific budget tied to specific accomplishments is the way to go.
Also, wait a month or two after loss of life before talking about how you’re mad that you’re potentially losing some cold, hard cash. It’s just good manners.