Monday, November 22, 2010

DHS & FEMA FY2011 Appropriations

Probably repeating unnecessarily but the Continuing Resolution for the bulk of the Executive Branch runs out on December 3, 2010. As the Duke of Wellington was quoted on teh Battle of Waterloo and the final defeat of Napoleon he supposedly stated "It was a close run thing"!

While I have no inside information I am predicting an extension until early March for the next CR while some think it will be for the entire year. If it is the latter the benefit is that the departments and agencies will have some certainty over their FY 2011 appropriations. Unfortunately it also continues an often abberational OMB to have the whip hand over actual governance and spending by the agencies. And a reminder that Peter Orzarg (sic) Obama's OMB Director left in August and his replacement was only just confirmed by voice vote late Thursday by the Senate-Jack Lew! Well be that as it may the first week of December or even on the Friday after Thanksgiving a lot of bureacrats Turkey Day gets spoiled by so-called "pass backs" from OMB on the departments and agency requests for their FY 2012 appropriations. Then of course they are various appeals which in the main fall on deaf ears at OMB and the departments and agencies then prepare the paper work for the President's budget submission around the time of the STATE of the UNION address. That usually occurs in late January. While the Congress technically reconvenes on January 3, 2011, my understanding is that actual legislative work will not begin until sometime between the 11th and 18th.
By the time this forthcoming STATE of the UNION address is given we will as a country have great insight as to whether the US is getting the governance it needs even while it continues to wage war overseas. This is starting to look like the political realignment I have long predicted, starting about 1990, and briefly postponed by both the invasion of Kuwait, and the events on and following 9/11/01 are about to be realized perhaps even in this decade.

While not an expert I would no longer review the national political scene based on RED STATE/ BLUE STATE voters but instead on the beliefs of the Congressional delegations from each state. With the reapportionment necessitated by the 2010 Decennial Census as mandated by the Constitution there will continue to be a shift in political power from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West. Thus I continue to discount the political staying power in Presidential politics except for anomolies like Barack Obama of potential new candidates from the Northeast or Midwest.

Thus, I would look to the relative economic decline in the South and West, including factors such as foreclosures, as generating more radical political beliefs that could well lead the US into some rather odd politics for the next decade.

One of the most unusual sitations in US political life is the now almost total withdrawal of moderate black politicians and the vast majority of black voters from either running for office and/or voting. This phenomenon if my guess is accurate is based on both frustration, education, and economics but is looking like a potential death knell for traditional Democratic leadership until the largely Democratic HISPANIC vote swells even more by the next census and more HISPANICS vote.

It does appear that WHITE VOTERS are the bulk of the independents and we have the WAPO reporting that 57% of eligible White voters voted for McCain/Palin in 2008. Black turnout in Presidential elections, normally 4-7% of the eligible black voters, rose to a record 16% in 2008 with perhaps as many as 95% of black voters supporting President Obama. That turnout and voting pattern does not look likely in 2012 so that leaves the DEMS in the lurch for turnout, reapportioned seats, and even their larger number of Senators up for re-election in 2012.

So how does this impact FEMA and DHS and their appropriations outlook. I have long argued that staying out from under CRs was the one saving grace for DHS. It gave that department at least some guidance and support for a difficult birth and initial operation. That now appears to be a goner. I have recommended that HS and National Security become a single multiple year appropriation with the rest of the government aligned for appropriations in alternative years. Since the game in Washington since the Reagan Administration--who are your contractors?--has impacted Congressional committee assignments and campaign donations and even impacted Executive Branch reorganizations and realignments of jurisdictions--it now makes sense that each department and agency produce with the annual budget submission a list of all their contractors, the contracts, and the funding stream for these contracts. This would give Congress which wants the information anyway, and interested persons wondering about federal policies, programs, functions, and activities a clearer insight of who is fighting for what appropriation.

For example, the current roughing up of TSA and its procedures and equipment, has been largely driven by technology and the failure to humanize the human consequence of that technology. This failure was in part driven by DHS contractors for screening equipment although they would deny it.

And it looks like a number of FEMA programs directed to the FIRE SERVICE, STATES and their local governments, and preparedness generally are and will be threatened this decade. I argue that the best FEMA and DHS can hope for in their appropriations is to stay even with inflation--should there be any inflation as the FEDERAL RESERVE is hoping.

All in all we will know by EASTER whether the long term outlook for Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management will remain stable or will suffer the slings and arrows of Congressional realignments and changes in membership.

A single event, Hurricane Katrina has now left the STATE level political situation in Louisiana largely in Republican hands for the first time since the Reconstruction Era. Incidents and events could well change the political situation in other geographic areas of the US. Time will tell.