A favorite tool of progressives to defend government spending is the "Firemen First Principle." This term was coined by Charles Peters in 1976. It states, "the public will support [the Clever Bureaucrat's] valiant fight against the budget reduction only if essential services are endangered. Thus, C.B. always picks on teachers, policemen, firemen first." President Obama said Republicans have a choice: "Do you want to see a bunch of first responders lose their jobs because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole?" The President complained, “Over the past four years, another 700,000 workers at the federal, state and local levels of government lost their jobs. These are cops and firefighters. About half of them are people that work in our schools." Millions more are concerned about possibly losing their jobs.
The progressive media is more than happy to support this fraud. An AP story dealing with Minnesota's budget battle is fairly typical. It reads: "The blind are losing reading services. A help line for the elderly has gone silent. And poor families are scrambling after the state stopped child-care subsidies." The city of Ann Arbor laid off firefighters because of a serious budget deficit. Due to an unwillingness to tax the "wealthy" the blind, the poor and the elderly must suffer. Essential services must be curtailed. Convicted murderers and rapists must be freed from prisons.
The strategy must inconvenience the public as much as possible. The cuts must impact the "most vulnerable" in a visibly dramatic fashion. Yet there are obvious problems with the progressive portrayal of heartless Republicans. The AP story gives as an example of hardship Sonya Mills, a 39-year-old mother of eight who is facing the loss of about $3,600 a month in state child-care subsidies. That is more than $43,000 a year. The city of Ann Arbor spent $850,000 on a piece of art while laying off its firefighters. The water project was ultimately plagued by malfunctions after its completion.
Clearly progressives in government have a curious view of other people's money. Former Congressman David Obey once referred to the cost of an item of pork as, "a lousy $8 million." Senator Chuck Schumer told the Senate, “And let me say this, to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny ‘ yes, porky’ amendments: The American people really don’t care.” It appears that progressives have the same outlook as their French brethren. The French philosopher Jean-François Revel asserted, "For French socialists, the main requirement for sound social policy is expenditure, not wise implementation. Results are of secondary importance."