December 5, 2005

Senator, Heal Thyself

Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times article on the commission report spends nearly as much time on the reaction by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who sees the report as "a top-to-bottom indictment of the federal government's lack of resources, focus and expertise in fighting the domestic war on terror," as it does on any of the commissioners themselves. Schumer was especially scathing about the money spent by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress:

"The report is a top-to-bottom indictment of the federal government's lack of resources, focus and expertise in fighting the domestic war on terror," Mr. Schumer said. "New York State is particularly hurt by the terribly unfair and inefficient homeland security funding formula and the lack of a federal program for communications interoperability among first responders. We can and must do better."

But a lengthy investigation by the New York Daily News found that one of the the primary examples of "the distribution of Department of Homeland Security money based on politics rather than on potential risk" is the porkbarrel spending in New York State itself, involving both Republicans (Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Rudy Guiliani) and Democrats in the New York congressional delegation (Schumer included), and both federal and state agencies. Hat tip to the raptor-like eye (and haunting beauty) of the nigh-omniscient Michelle Malkin.

Some of the details uncovered by the NY Daily News of "emergency spending" enacted in New York are troubling indeed:

  • Hundreds of millions to businesses that were not significantly affected by 9/11
  • Millions more for projects already in development before 9/11, some that were already funded, others that were still awaiting funding
  • "Huge contracts were given to companies and organizations linked to the very officials tasked with deciding how to spend the money — creating, at a minimum, the potential for multiple conflicts of interest."
  • Huge bribes forked over to induce companies to stay in lower Manhattan... including companies that had never expressed any thought of leaving
  • Eligibility rules made so porous that "virtually no one was ineligible"

In fact, the original figure for aid to New York -- $20 billion -- was pulled directly out of Charles Schumer's, er, hat:

The magic number of "$20 billion" that President Bush first said he would give New York was actually pulled from thin air, a figure born of politics and compassion rather than actuarial calculation and meaningful analysis.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) came up with the number in an effort to match the amount of emergency money being planned for anti-terrorism security across the country — legislation that made no specific mention of New York.

"To ask for more than $20 billion — more for New York than for all the military and the rest of the country — would seem excessive," Schumer told the Daily News. "But to ask for less than $20 billion would be derelict in my duties as a New York senator. So I figured, 'Let's match it, $20 billion for the rest and $20 billion for New York.'"

Schumer remembers Bush asking, "New York really needs $20 billion?"

"At least that, Mr. President," Schumer replied.

"You got it," said Bush. [Emphasis added]

So until Sen. Schumer leads an effort to crack down on porkbarrel spending in New York "based on politics rather than on potential risk," it's a bit thick for him to wag his finger about such unaccountable spending in the rest of the country.

Oh, wait -- Charles Schumer is being hypocritical? That's a story? As Emily Litella says...!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 5, 2005, at the time of 3:36 PM

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