Politics vs. Homeland Security


Readers of BusinessWeek Online say the nation's leaders are moving too slowly to set up a new Homeland Security Dept. Who's to blame: Our respondents are more likely (by a 2-to-1 margin) to point the finger at Democrats than at Republicans.

Of the 240-plus people who responded to our Oct. 17 Reader Survey, some 65% said it's taking too long to get the new department going, vs. the 30% who said things are moving fast enough. About 52% blame the delay on Democrats in Congress, who oppose giving President George Bush the right to suspend union contracts of the employees in the new department in case of a national emergency. Some 25% blame the delay on Bush for insisting on that provision.

Nearly 56% of those who responded think the President should get the power he wants, vs. the 39% who think he shouldn't, even though 47% think he would use that power not just to protect national security but as an excuse to break the unions involved, as the Democrats fear. An almost equivalent number (45%) think Bush wouldn't use such authority to attack the unions.

EQUALLY BAD. More readers than not think both sides should compromise, rather that hold fast to their positions. Some 49% think the President should bend, vs. the 46% who think he shouldn't. Some 62% think the Democrats should back down, vs. the 35% who think they shouldn't.

In fact, some 45% of those who responded said they think the dispute is making Republicans and Democrats look equally bad. Still, 35% think the Republicans will get an advantage in the November midterm elections by blaming the Democrats for prolonging the homeland security decision, while only 11% think the Democrats will benefit by blaming the President.

Interestingly, some 30% of those who responded think the Homeland Security Dept. probably isn't even necessary at this point, though 54% think it still is. In any case, the betting among those who responded seems to be that the logjam won't be broken until next year.

Here are the detailed results of the survey, which as always isn't a scientific poll, since anyone who wished to could particiapte:

Do you think the nation's leaders are moving fast enough to set up the proposed Homeland Security Dept.?

Option

Total

%

Yes

72

30.38 %

No

153

64.56 %

Don't know

12

5.06 %

If you think that Washington is moving too slowly, who do you think is most at fault?

Option

Total

%

The Republicans, including the President

58

25.11 %

The Democrats

119

51.52 %

Neither/Other

17

7.36 %

There's no problem -- Washington is moving fast enough

37

16.02 %

The President wants the right to suspend union contracts covering employees of the new department if he thinks that's necessary to help protect national security. Do you think he should have that right?

Option

Total

%

Yes

133

55.65 %

No

94

39.33 %

Don't know

12

5.02 %

Opponents argue that if the President gets the power he wants, he'll use national security as an excuse to break the unions to which employees who'll be placed in the new department already belong. Do you think that the President would do what they fear?

Option

Total

%

Yes

111

46.64 %

No

106

44.54 %

Don't know

21

8.82 %

Do you think this issue is so important that the President should hold out for what he wants, rather than compromise and proceed with the creation of the Homeland Security Dept.?

Option

Total

%

Yes

109

45.8 %

No

116

48.74 %

Don't know

13

5.46 %

Do you think this issue is so important that Democrats and their union supporters should hold out for what they want, rather than compromise and proceed with the creation of the Homeland Security Dept.?

Option

Total

%

Yes

84

35.44 %

No

146

61.6 %

Don't know

7

2.95 %

Who do you think gets the most political advantage if this logjam isn't broken before the November elections?

Option

Total

%

The President, because he can blame the Democrats

84

35.44 %

The Democrats, because they can blame the President

25

10.55 %

Neither -- both Republicans and Democrats will look equally bad

107

45.15 %

Don't know

21

8.86 %

At this time, do you think a new Homeland Security Dept. is:

Option

Total

%

Overdue and necessary

130

53.94 %

Not terribly overdue and necessary

38

15.77 %

Unnecessary

72

29.88 %

Don't know

1

0.41 %

When do you think that the two sides will compromise and get started on creating the new department?

Option

Total

%

Before the November elections

18

7.53 %

Right after the November elections

51

21.34 %

Next year

87

36.4 %

Never

35

14.64 %

Don't know

48

20.08 %


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