People who save lives, by often risking their own are held in regards here in America. Police, firemen and emergency workers are just some of the Americans that people immediately get defensive of when ever they might feel they are being disrespected. Both my grandfathers were civil servants, one a Chicago police officer and the other a Chicago firefighter.
When I first read the headline "Obama to cut slain officers program by nearly half", I instantly had a look of surprise on my face. Why the hell would the president do something so insensitive much less be committing political suicide?
Well the proposed cut is part of $17 billion dollars worth of trimming that the president is cutting from the tiny fraction of next year's $3.4 trillion budget. A total of 121 programs are either getting trimmed or eliminated totally from these cuts.
The proposed cuts from the Public Safety Officers' Death Benefits Program from $110 million to $60 million would reduce it nearly in half. Of course this has brought out the president's harshest critics:
"Apparently Obama imagines that his ascension to the White House will heal the tortured minds those criminal miscreants and cop-killers that might be lurking around out there because according to the reasoning offered to cut program funds, Obama claims that the number of on-the-job police killings is supposed to drop". -Red State.com
Could Obama be this cold-hearted? Could he really want to take away support for those families who have lost family members in the line of duty? After getting elected is he just saying "fuck the police?"
Well let's look at it. The program pays benefits of more than $300,000 to the survivors of a safety officer killed in the line of duty. There were 133 police officers killed in the line of duty last year, the lowest amount since 1960, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. So even if God forbid, 150 officers fell in the line of duty in 2010, that would be a total of a little over 48 million dollars.
"It makes us kind of nervous. While we aren't panicking, it certainly has increased our concern, coming a week before National Police Week," said Suzie Sawyer, executive director of Concerns of Police Survivors, a group taking part in next week's events.The Justice Department insisted no one would lose benefits.
Sawyer said as long as the number of police and safety officers killed doesn't increase too much, the amount of money offered in the budget could be enough. And she noted that in the past, the government has found more money for the program when it needed more, such as following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
"Any family member who is eligible for benefits under this program will receive them," said Justice Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz.
Budget documents say the reduction is being made because "claims are anticipated to decrease," apparently because the number of officers killed in the line of duty has been decreasing.
PoliceOne.com also reported that Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, "has been in contact with the White House and we have been assured that the Public Safety Death Benefit Program has not been changed and that the full benefit mandated in the Federal Law will be provided to all survivors and approved disability cases." We followed up to get further clarification and spoke with Tim Richardson, Senior Legislative Liaison for the National FOP, who assured us "There’s nothing to be alarmed about — no benefits will be denied."
So while the word "cut to benefits" makes anyone jump into defense mode, I don't think this is one group of men and women that the Obama administration wants to screw over. I for one will always be on the side of Fraternal Order of Police.