A day after she acknowledged FOX News Channel's efforts to report a favorable economic picture, Your World w/ Neil Cavuto substitute host Brenda Buttner grossly overstated the amount of homeland security funding provided by the federal government to American cities during a conversation with U.S. Conference of Mayors president Donald L. Plusquellic and executive director J. Thomas Cochran.
From the August 11 edition of FOX News Channel's Your World w/Neil Cavuto:
COCHRAN: Obviously, Secretary Ridge, President Bush, there are a lot of dollars that have been earmarked and have been sent out to different cities for Homeland Security --
BUTTNER: Twenty-six billion dollars.
COCHRAN: A lot of money, there's no question about that.
The actual amount that has been provided to cities and states by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is much lower, probably closer to $8 billion. A report issued in June by the Task Force on State and Local Homeland Security Funding (of which Plusquellic is vice chair) examined ways to facilitate the disbursement to states and cities of the "homeland security funds totaling over $8 billion that has been awarded over the past two years." Ridge echoed this $8 billion figure in a February press conference announcing the DHS budget for FY2005. A July 22 GOP fact sheet claims a higher number, declaring that President Bush has "[a]llocated more than $13 billion to help state and local governments prepare for terrorism" -- though that is still half the amount asserted by Buttner.
While it is not clear from where Buttner acquired the $26 billion figure, what is clear is that the administration seeks to decrease the amount of homeland security funding being provided to cities and states. As Government Executive magazine reported on February 2, the administration's proposed fiscal year 2005 budget "reduces funding for other grant programs, such as Citizen Corps, Fire Act Grants, state and local training initiatives, training exercises and technical assistance. Overall, the amount of grant funding available to state and local governments decreases by $805 million from fiscal year 2004." According to the article, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) criticized the budget request, saying: "President Bush has been seriously underfunding homeland security for the past two years."