Brian Darling

Since the Clinton Administration, the federal government has also funded the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring grant program. It funnels billions of federal tax dollars to state and local police departments—as well as park police, college police and other law enforcement agencies.

Unfortunately, exhaustive research by The Heritage Foundation’s David Muhlhausen has demonstrated that COPS is completely " ineffective at reducing crime. ." President Obama’s “stimulus” program encouraging state and local governments to take on additional temporary police officers is even less intelligently designed. It’s a classic example of squandering federal dollars on functions that are none of DC’s business to begin with.

The federal government, already too large, with spending far above the post World War II norm. On May 31, 2012, Alison Fraser of Heritage testified to the House Budget Committee that “today, federal spending is at about 23 percent of [Gross Domestic Product], and debt held by the public is approximately 70 percent. When compared to the historical, post–World War II average of approximately 20 percent of GDP for federal spending and 44 percent for debt held by the public, this growth alone would be cause for concern.”

James Pethokoukis of AEI estimates that, under President Obama, federal spending totalled 25.2% of GDP in 2009, 24.1% of GDP in 2010, 24.1% of GDP in 2011, and 24.3% (estimates by the White House ) this year. And much of that spending is with borrowed dollars. Our national debt now stands at $15.8 trillion , up from $10.6 when Obama took office. The federal government simply does not have the money to bail out profligate states or municipalities.

The Constitution is clear. The states are the repository of police powers. State and local employees should not be supported by federal funds for constitutional as well as fiscal reasons. Yes, federal funds have flowed to state and local governments to hire firefighters, teachers, and police. But that doesn’t make the practice prudent or proper.

Bail out shortfalls in state and local treasuries is not a core function of the federal government. It is but an example of the central government is infringing on the traditional domain of the states.


Brian Darling

Brian Darling is a Senior Fellow in Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling