Homeland Security in the Year Ahead

But we at HSToday don’t want to do that. This magazine has always been forward-looking, and we intend to keep that up. Accordingly, in this issue we look ahead to the new year, a year that will inaugurate a second administration for President George W. Bush. While our analysis is by nature speculative, we hope nonetheless to give you some sense of the trends.
Just as there are trends, however, there are also needs, and the most glaring immediate need is to change the funding formula for homeland security from an absolute, evenly divided one in which each state receives an equal piece of the pie to a more flexible, threat-based formula.
That means protecting the most at-risk cities—chiefly, New York and Washington, DC—by directing more homeland security funds to them.
It’s Congress’s job to make this change, but to date rural lawmakers have ensured that the one-size-fits-all formula remains in place. This really should not continue.
President Bush and the administration must put their muscle behind forcing this change. The president now controls all the levers of power—the executive branch, the House, the Senate and, soon, the judiciary. He—and only he—can dictate a change of this magnitude. If he says he wants a change in the formula, it will happen. If he does nothing, the unacceptable status quo will remain in place.
There are many things the president is going to have to do in homeland security during the next four years. But this is among the top priorities. Making the change is certainly in Congress’s interest—perhaps the structure at most risk is the US Capitol. Al Qaeda has a history of revisiting targets it previously missed, and the Capitol was probably the target of Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pa., on 9/11.
Congress needs to change the funding formula in order to secure the nation—and itself—and President Bush must lead the way.
2005 appropriations
Also in this issue, correspondent Mickey McCarter examines 2005 homeland security appropriations and what they mean.
This was a particularly interesting exercise, especially as we watched the numbers spin during the election campaign. Members of Congress highlighted the amount they appropriated over the administration’s initial budget request. The embattled White House tried to focus public attention on its spending increases on homeland security since 9/11. Democrats pointed out funding cuts and gaps in homeland security.
Whatever else one says, the fact remains that homeland security spending will increase in 2005 over the previous year. We were dismayed that our colleagues in the general media seemed unable to grasp this overall fact, and what coverage there was of the 2005 Homeland Security Appropriations Act—and in the midst of the campaign it was quite minimal — tended to be dismissive or to focus just on those few areas where there were cuts.
In one breathless article in the Oct. 17 New York Times, writers Louis Uchitelle and John Markoff, while noting that “domestic security seems poised to become a significantfactor in the overall economy” and “government spending on domestic security is…huge, and growing fast,” also worried that homeland security spending could be an “albatross for the economy” similar to weapons spending during the Cold War.
Clearly, we at HSToday don’t see ensuring the safety and security of our country, our neighbors and our families as any kind of albatross. Also, let us not forget that American defense spending during the Cold War kept the Soviet Union at bay and when the danger lifted, the technological and infrastructural advances—from the Internet to the space program to the interstate highway system and more—made possible spectacular economic growth.
We look ahead to the continued securing of the United States from those who would do it harm. And we wish all our readers safe and secure holidays and a hopeful and promising new year. HST

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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