Mickey Kaus explains:
Charles Peters’ “Fireman First Principle”–outlined in this 1976 article–holds that a clever bureaucrat, faced with a budget reduction, will threaten to cut not the least essential services but the most essential (in order to provoke public outrage that results in the budget reduction getting cancelled)
It’s also known as slaughtering a sacred cow. What Drudge headline prompted Kaus to reminisce?
Navy Unable to Refuel Carrier Due to Budget Cuts