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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 02/24/2011

Mayors criticize House budget cuts as 'hypocritical' and 'un-American'

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 2:50 p.m.

A bipartisan group of thirty mayors from around the country on Thursday announced its opposition to the resolution passed by the House last week that would cut $61 billion in federal spending, blasting the measure as devastating to children, seniors, the poor and others.

Particularly distressing about the funding resolution, the mayors said at a news conference in Washington, is that it would cut Community Development Block Grant funding by more than 62 percent. Mayors praised the block grant program, which is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as "the most important federal investment to job creation and neighborhood revitalization in local communities."

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, a Democrat who is running for re-election in 2011, called the House-passed funding measure "outrageous," "unacceptable" and "literally un-American."


"It attacks senior citizens; it attacks children; it attacks working people; it stops jobs and economic development in cities all across the United States of America," Nutter said of the spending measure. "I have no idea what is going on in the minds of some who have now gotten elected on rhetoric and are trying to govern with that same rhetoric. You cannot run a country while attacking its own people."

Opponents of the House-passed measure also included Republican mayors. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who is also the president of the Republican Mayors and Local Officials organization, charged that the funding measure showed Washington lawmakers don't have their priorities straight.

"It's hypocritical for elected officials in Washington to say they value cities, they value the economy and they value jobs and then you create a stimulus package and send it to the states, where it never reaches the cities," Cornett said. "It's hypocritical to say you value the economy and cities and jobs and then go make drastic cuts to great programs like Community Development Block Grants, which we know have great discretionary opportunity to go exactly where they're needed in our community."

He later added that "it's a little bit lame" to hear Washington lawmakers say they have tough choices to make when mayors have to make decisions that are every bit as difficult.

The mayors said that they may organize a march on the Capitol building next month if they aren't satisfied with the progress Congress is making on addressing the cuts.

Led by Burnsville, Minn., Mayor Elizabeth Kautz, the U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation had been holding closed-door sessions this week in which mayors were crafting an appeal to the Senate to restore funding to the block grant program.

The mayors also planned to discuss other programs that would be affected by the cuts, including homeland security grants, workforce training grants, community health centers, education, high speed rail and public housing.

Both chambers are doing battle over the measure to continue funding the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September. Senate Democrats have signaled that the House-passed funding resolution is a non-starter in the upper chamber, contending that its cuts are too deep.

The measure currently funding the government expires March 4, giving lawmakers little time to come to an agreement on a longer-term spending resolution and pointing toward the likelihood of a stop-gap funding measure in order to avoid a government shutdown.

But even the topic of a short-term funding resolution has been a contentious one; House Republicans are crafting a measure that would cut $4 billion over two weeks, but that idea was rejected Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Here is full list of mayors participating in this week's meeting:

Burnsville (MN) Mayor Elizabeth B. Kautz, president, U.S. Conference of Mayors
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, second vice president, U.S. Conference of Mayors
Salt Lake City (UT) Mayor Ralph Becker
Elizabeth (NJ) Mayor Christian Bollwage
Carmel (IN) Mayor James Brainard
West Sacramento (CA) Mayor Christopher Cabaldon
Columbus (OH) Mayor Michael Coleman
Hallandale Beach (FL) Mayor Joy Cooper
Oklahoma City (OK) Mayor Mick Cornett
Alexandria (VA) Mayor William Euille
Charlotte (NC) Mayor Anthony Foxx
San Marcos (TX) Mayor Daniel Guerrero
North Little Rock (AR) Mayor Patrick Henry Hays
Jackson (MS) Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Southfield (MI) Mayor Brenda Lawrence
Chattanooga (TN) Mayor Ron Littlefield
Cincinnati (OH) Mayor Mark Mallory
Tallahassee (FL) Mayor John Marks
Sumter (SC) Mayor Joseph McElveen
Syracuse (NY) Mayor Stephanie Miner
North Miami (FL) Mayor Andre Pierre
Santa Ana (CA) Mayor Miguel Pulido
Atlanta (GA) Mayor Kasim Reed
Macon (GA) Mayor Robert Reichert
Hartford (CT) Mayor Pedro Segarra
Mesa (AZ) Mayor Scott Smith
Little Rock (AR) Mayor Mark Stodola
Schenectady (NY) Mayor Brian Stratton
Gastonia (NC) Mayor Jennie Stultz
Fresno (CA) Mayor Ashley Swearengin
Piscataway (NJ) Mayor Brian Wahler

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 24, 2011; 2:50 PM ET
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Could you please provide us with party affiliations for the mayors?

Posted by: cajunkate | February 24, 2011 9:02 AM | Report abuse

During the actor President's Administration's second year in power, when the Republican/Wall Street's economic attack on our Republic and working citizens economy became apparent to me, I wrote an editoral that predicted our current economic collapse.
Off-shoring industries and jobs, deregulation of economic protections...I would go on with this but I have an idea that you who are reading my post know what happened, those who are responsible and why...sure you do but will agenda and philosophy keep you from saying it out loud because that would in effect force you do something about it besides talk would it not.
May I suggest that you start attending your veterans meetings or other stand up fellow citizens and do something...not because of what Wall Street and thier cadre of career politicians have done...but because there are growing numbers of citizens who like me who are advocating revenge and more then willing to go much further then you...much further.

Posted by: 123Njord | February 24, 2011 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Can you ask Mesa Mayor Scott Smith is he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives and Newton Mayor Setti Warren if he is running for U.S. Senate?

Also heard some buzz about Carmel Mayor James Brainard?

Posted by: Corey_NY | February 24, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

When Reagan began Trimming the Federal Budget he eliminated programs that Collected State money and Returned to the States. Governors were forced to Raise Taxes to cover the loss and pay for Reagan's other Unfunded mandates.

A lot of those Governors lost their Seats in the next Election.

If Mayors Raise Taxes to recover lost Federal Funds they may lose their Jobs; too bad!

Posted by: ddoiron1 | February 24, 2011 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Attention Washington D.C.

Why don't city try saving money by not paying council president Kwame Brown $197,000 and take away his all spruced up 2011 Navigator at $1,900 per month. Get your house in order before complaining to the feds.

Posted by: GBED989 | February 24, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

We are seeing a totalitarian government form in America. A government which refuses to negotiate or compromise. A government which is stripping the basic tenants on which our nation was formed. The group forming the ruling class is that of the Republican party with the financial backing of big corporations, wall street, banks, energy companies, multi national conglomerates, industrialists and a handful of the ultra-rich. The republican party and these groups are twisting and manipulating reality and facts through lies, propaganda and faulty logic.

They do not care to govern, they want to rule America. They want to be the overlords in a new form of authoritarian totalitarian government in America which they still want to call an American democracy, a democracy in name only, and a democracy unlike our founding fathers had in mind, nor have we ever seen in the history of our union.

Posted by: cario1 | February 24, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

How about cutting the 3 BILLION dollars a year we give to Israel instead? Oh, that's right, Israel is untouchable. While Americans get screwed, Israel and its settlers get 10 million dollars a day from the USA! Disgusting!

Posted by: ardestani | February 24, 2011 4:10 PM | Report abuse

It seems the mayors don't understand they work for the GOVERNORS :-)
They are talking to the wrong end of the horse!
Clever journalism - you excluded the party affiliations of the mayors. Could it be the whiners were democrats???

Posted by: thornegp2626 | February 24, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Particularly since neither branch of Congress has offered, given the desperate need to make cuts everywhere(so they say), TO REDUCE THEIR OWN OFTEN RAISED PAY, I have little respect for ANY of their claims that "sacrifices must be made."

Posted by: michaelemunson | February 24, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

@cairo1 Staying the spending course and printing trillions of dollars doesn't help the poor or hurt the rich. The rich own assets & commodities which have value that reflects the true value of our currency over time. Printing money hurts Social Security recipients, minimum wage earners and salaried workers. Food, fuel and housing become much more expensive hurting those who can afford it least.

We're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent. Stopping the bleeding requires at least 25% cuts to ALL spending. Forget party affiliation and cut defense as well as agriculture and arts subsidies. Congress robbed our Trust funds and there is NOTHING left for the aged; it was no secret this happened and the Baby Boomers were complicit, so they'll have to bear some of the pain.

Raising general taxes hurts the economy, but removing all the tax loopholes and going with a super simple tax plan would cover many of the funding gaps and reduce the regulatory burden on the economy.

Posted by: SpecKK | February 24, 2011 8:35 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: zhengddp | February 24, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

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