The Bush administration expects the District of Columbia to pay for security for President Bush’s inauguration next week. Consider:
OMB spokesman Chad Kolton said no additional appropriation is needed for the inauguration.
“We think that an appropriate balance of money from [the annual reimbursement] fund and from homeland security grants is the most effective way to cover the additional cost the city incurs,” Kolton said. “We recognize the city has a special burden to bear for many of these events. . . . That’s expressly why in the post-9/11 era we are providing additional resources.”
Allow me to pull out my Official Bush Administration Buzzword Checklist™. I see here that “homeland security” is on the list, “9/11” is on the list, and what’s this? Oh, good one, Mr. Kolton. You get triple, super-duper bonus points for “we are providing additional resources” in a situation in which you’re not providing additional resources.
To clarify the issue a little further, consider:
[Mayor Anthony A.] Williams estimated that the city’s costs for the inauguration will total $17.3 million, most of it related to security. City officials said they can use an unspent $5.4 million from an annual federal fund that reimburses the District for costs incurred because of its status as the capital. But that leaves $11.9 million not covered, they said.
“We want to make this the best possible event, but not at the expense of D.C. taxpayers and other homeland security priorities,” said Gregory M. McCarthy, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff. “This is the first time there hasn’t been a direct appropriation for the inauguration.”
But really, why should D.C. officials complain? They were going to waste the $11.9 million on “increasing hospital capacity, equipping firefighters with protective gear and building transit system command centers.” No one will miss those in an attack on The Homeland.
Surprisingly, my congressman has condemned the Bush administration. Consider:
A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor’s stance. He called the Bush administration’s position “simply not acceptable.”
“It’s an unfunded mandate of the most odious kind. How can the District be asked to take funds from important homeland security projects to pay for this instead?” said Davis spokesman David Marin.
A good question indeed.