White House slashes NY anti-terrorism funds amid buzz Obama will meet with NYPD Times Square heroesBy Michael Mcauliff
May 13, 2010
WASHINGTON - Eleven days after the botched plot to bomb Times Square, the Obama administration on Wednesday slashed some $53 million from the city's terror-fighting budget.
"For the administration to announce these cuts two weeks after the attempted Times Square bombing shows they just don't get it and are not doing right by New York City," fumed Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
To top it off, the news arrives as President Obama comes to town today amid buzz he will meet with the very cops who helped thwart the bombing.
Obama will also be tapping the city's deep pockets for the Democratic Party.
"The President seems more interested in raising money for political campaigns than providing New York the money it needs to defend itself against Islamic terrorism," said Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.
The cuts, to be announced today, target the annual allocations for transit and port security, legislators said.
The New York City area will get $111million for transit security in the final 2010 budget - a 27% chop from last year's $153 million. The port security program is getting chopped from $45 million to $33.8million - a cut of 25%.
"The fact that the Obama administration would cut New York's homeland security funding just 11 days after the Times Square car bomb attempt is dangerous and unconscionable," King said.
The Department of Homeland Security had forecast the cuts in December, but local leaders thought the administration would change its mind after a car packed with fireworks, propane and fertilizer nearly detonated in Times Square on May 1.
Another terror plot busted up last September targeted the city's subways.
"Just when we thought they finally realized a war on terror is going on, they do something like this," raged City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Queens), head of the Council's Public Safety Committee.
"This leaves us more vulnerable to 'man-caused disasters,'" he said sarcastically, referring to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's term for terror attacks.
Homeland Security Department spokesman Matthew Chandler begged to differ with New York's interpretation, insisting his agency is "actively engaged in supporting New York City's first responders and overall preparedness."
He argued that in 2009, the administration gave the area more than $457 million for "terrorism and other threats." He blamed Congress for appropriating less money for 2010, and an administration official said if New York includes the cash it got from the economic stimulus bill passed in 2009, it's actually getting $47.3 million more than last year for ports and transit protection.
King was unimpressed by that math, arguing the stimulus cash is a one-time payout that won't be repeated.
"That's a story they're coming up with at the last minute, because an hour ago they were saying they couldn't give us the money because Congress only allocated $300 million," he said. "Actually, Obama only asked for $250 million."
King noted there is nothing stopping the administration from giving the city a bigger slice. "New York should get first shot, because we're the No. 1 target," he said.