I am all for cutting back government spending. There are, however, smart and less than smart ways to do that. For example, a family can balance the budget by just skipping the mortgage payment leaving plenty of bucks for Netflicks and munchies. The House appropriations bill for the Homeland Security Department budget looks to be taking a similar approach—gutting the Office of Policy. That makes no sense. Congress created the department to fuse the efforts of multiple agencies and activities, now they propose to undermine the most important office in the department for making that task a reality—not to mention the cuts will hamstring the office’s capacity to manage key programs like the Visa Waiver Program (which the president just announced he wants to expand) and CFIUS (which is supposed to prevent the next Dubai World Ports fiasco).
My colleague Jena Baker McNeill has written a crackerjack paper, “Looming Budget Cuts at the DHS Office of Policy.” She concludes, “The DHS Office of Policy has been a repeated victim of legislative cuts—a trend that has continued into the FY 12 appropriations cycle. This is a mistake. Certainly there may be room for Congress to spend smarter on homeland security. However, hamstringing the valuable efforts of the Office of Policy will impede if not completely halt current efforts and important programs.”
She also offers some better ideas than being penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to homeland security.