In the wake of the deadly terrorist attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Democrats developed a talking point that security was lax because the Republicans had cut security funding for the State Department. Many in the media did what they tend to do, and carried that talking point forward in editorials and straight news pieces.
What then, to make of this?
Leaders in both parties in Washington on Friday expressed remorse and disbelief in the tragedy in the tiny suburban Connecticut town of Newtown, where a single 20-year-old gunman walked into the school where his mother taught and killed 20 children and six others before turning the gun on himself.
“Our hearts are broken today,” President Barack Obama said, wiping a tear from his eyes as he reacted to the tragedy. “As a country we have been through this too many times.
“These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” the president added.
But last year, his administration took a less muted tone as it submitted its 2012 Education Department budget to Congress that eliminated the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) funding, which for years provided between $20 million and $30 million in annual grants to help schools create emergency and crisis preparation and prevention plans for tragedies just like the one that unfolded Friday.
The Education Department’s Web site says it last made REMS grantsin 2011.
The funding was cut off even though the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, warned in 2007 that many “many school district officials said that they experience challenges in planning for emergencies due to a lack of equipment, training for staff, and expertise and some school districts face difficulties in communicating and coordinating with first responders and parents.”
The Newtown, CT school district took advantage of the funding in 2000, but the key programs that provide school security funding were phased out in 2012. The Washington Guardian’s report quote above also notes that some liberal advocacy groups have militated against increasing the presence of security officers in our schools.
Perhaps someone in the White House press pool will get around to asking Jay Carney about all this. Eventually.