Some interesting notes from Factcheck.org about Obama’s claim to have saved 57 Minneapolis police officers their jobs.
Obama said that “there are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.” But that’s a dubious claim.
It’s true that Mayor R.T. Rybak (an early Obama supporter) said Feb. 23 that cuts in state aid “would have led to the elimination of 57 sworn police officer positions and 19 non sworn employees” and that the stimulus bill “will keep 57 police officers working on the streets of Minneapolis.” But there’s more to it than that.
For one thing, the mayor’s 57-cop figure is hypothetical. No layoffs were actually proposed. The mayor said that number would have to go “IF you allocated the Governor’s proposed cuts equally across the city” and “IF the Governor’s cuts were passed on directly to the Police Department.” We emphasize the word “if.” Cities seldom spread such cuts equally across all city departments and services. The usual practice is to minimize impact on public safety and make larger cuts in less essential services.
More important, the mayor himself cites four other factors besides the stimulus money that allow him to avert these hypothetical layoffs. Elsewhere in the same budget speech, he puts stimulus funds last, behind four other factors: lowering debt service payments, focusing cuts on “more expensive management positions,” eliminating services and “developing new revenue options.” Specifically, Rybak said: “We are proposing elimination of $1.5 million in non-personnel costs, including overtime.” So the truth is the stimulus money will help and may avert some future layoffs, but not all 57 cited by the mayor.