Late today, Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced a bill to eliminate Federal subsidies for Fire Departments. Noting that many volunteer fire departments receive Federal grants to help purchase new equipment, Senator Vitter remarked that “this is an area where the private sector, driven by the profit motive, can better support customers”. Senator DeMint added, “by providing government subsidies to local fire departments, we are encouraging Socialism. In fact, the French government funds all of the fire departments in that country.” Vitter added, “if someone desires fire protection, they should pay for it.”
Even though most communities are only covered by a single fire department, DeMint pointed out that free enterprise would encourage other competing departments to come in and that would reduce prices to the homeowners who contract with the departments for protection.
When asked at a recent press conference whether a Republican-sponsored bill such as this has a chance for passage, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted that there are enough conservative Democrats in the chamber, which when added to the solid Republican bloc, can override any filibuster. In response to another question, McConnell noted that people who can’t afford fire protection could go to emergency rooms or shelters if their house burned down.
In a related matter, Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) announced that when the bill gets to the House, he will introduce an amendment forbidding fire departments from using any Federally-subsidized roads when responding to a fire alarm at Women’s Reproductive Health clinics.
President Obama is studying the proposed bill and will discuss this in a nationally televised address next week.
(Note: As real as this sounds, it’s only satire … for now.)