Rep. Michael Grimm’s support of the GOP’s controversial spending bill has left the Marine and former FBI agent with a big target on his back.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began a “robo-call” campaign against Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) on Wednesday, vilifying the freshman legislator for cutting police funding “by 26 percent” when he voted for more than $60 billion in cuts to the nation’s $3.8-trillion budget.
“If Michael Grimm has his way, more cops will be out of a job and our streets will be less safe — threatening our communities,” states the automated call.
The national Democratic organization’s call highlighted what local liberals have been complaining about ever since Grimm defeated Democrat Mike McMahon in the majority Democratic Bay Ridge-Staten Island district: That Grimm would vote with his Republican brethren even at the expense of his constituents.
For example, in approving the overall GOP budget plan, Grimm endorsed many other cuts, including:
• Defunding President Obama’s landmark health care reforms by prohibiting any federal money to be spent on implementing it. Grimm promised to defund the health care reforms, which he called a “job killer.”
• Eliminating all federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which could shut down many of the group’s birth control, cancer screenings and HIV testing programs. Grimm is pro-life — but Planned Parenthood is already forbidden by federal law from spending any of its federal funds to provide abortions.
• Cutting $758 million in food assistance to low-income families.
• Removing $8.4 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Registry, which collects data on industrial emissions. Grimm has said that he doubts the science on whether such emissions contribute to global warming.
Grimm was the only federal lawmaker in the city to approve the cuts, which colleague Anthony Weiner (D–Sheepshead Bay) called wrong-headed.
“We all agree that we need to reduce the deficit, but we need to get our priorities straight,” Weiner said. “Some of these cuts are so Draconian they are never going to become law. That’s why we need to sit at the table and make a good compromise.”
The specific charges in the DCCC’s “robo-call” are a bit misleading. Grimm actually fought to restore more than half of the $498 million that the GOP leadership sought to cut from the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which helps municipalities hire police officers.
Grimm crossed party lines to buck Speaker John Boehner (R–Ohio), voting for an amendment sponsored by Weiner to restore $298 million to the program — taking the money out of NASA’s budget.
Grimm also voted to use Homeland Security funds to restore all of the grants the GOP sought to cut from fire companies throughout the nation, including the FDNY.
Grimm said that this brief dalliance with the Democrats was necessary to support “our city’s heroes.”
“While I fully support cutting the budget, we also need to strike balance when it comes to the safety and security of our nation’s citizens,” Grimm said in a statement. Attempts to get him on the phone continue to be unsuccessful.
Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the DCCC, said that the robo-call isn’t about the $298 million Grimm helped save, but the $200 million that he and the GOP left on the cutting-room floor.
“Grimm agreed to cut half of that agency’s budget,” Schwerin said. “He could have put in an amendment to restore all the money, but he didn’t.”
There’s obviously a back story to the DCCC’s decision to target Grimm, whom the group sees as one of 50 “vulnerable House Republicans.”
“Rep. Michael Grimm has made himself vulnerable by making the wrong choices that demand middle class families sacrifice to cut spending while protecting taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil companies making record profits,” Schwerin said.
The goal of Democrats is to regain a seat that the party held for only two years in the last two decades — when McMahon succeeded scandal-tarred 12-year Rep. Vito Fossella, who declined to run for a likely re-election after he was arrested for drunk driving and later revealed that he had a second family in Virginia.
Grimm defeated McMahon by riding a tea kettle atop the anti-Democratic wave last November, getting 51.5 percent of the vote and defeating the DCCC’s “candidate protection program” that sent more cash and resources to McMahon’s campaign.
Weiner could see why the DCCC would use the congressional spending plan in their quest to unseat Grimm.
“[Approving these massive cuts] is pretty bad policy,” he said. “In some areas it’s also pretty bad politics.”