REFLECTIONS

Posted on September 11, 2011

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PAY AS YOU GO FAILS

SUFFERING FROM NATURE’S DISASTERS

It was inevitable that this bipartisan practice of helping storm-tossed Americans, regardless of the cost, would become politicized.

After all, if tea party Republicans held the debt ceiling hostage, in exchange for a heavy ransom of spending cuts, why would we not expect them to insist that the Joplin tornado, Hurricane Irene and Texas fire relief be fully financed only if the the money is swiped from other federal programs?

Eric Cantor, GOP No. 2 in the House, summed up that position on Fox News: “We will find the (Irene) money if there is a need for additional money. But those moneys are not unlimited, and we have said we have to offset that which had already been funded.” The Federal Emergency Agency (FEMA) is already almost out of money, and the cost for helping the suffering in the current disasters will cost billions.

Cantor’s and the tea party’s approach to disaster spending is a reversal in the long honored bipartisan tradition of providing no-strings attached disaster aid. Both parties have done it that way 33 times since 1989, without requiring budgetary “offsets,” but apparently Cantor sees the current emergencies as an opportune time to play ideological politics.

I have a question for the Republican austerity cops. If they’re so committed to the principle of “pay as you go,’ if they believe so fervently that fiscal conservatism should trump even the promotion of the “general welfare” (U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8), then where were they just a few years ago when the Bush administration launched two wars?

There will be more unforeseen floods, hurricanes,  earthquakes and fires. Most Americans want to help the suffering during times of need.

One Cantor Republican ally sought to answer the disaster funding question on Fox News. In his words, “We don’t have any money,” so said Michael Brown, the infamous Bush appointee who ran FEMA during Katrina. Yep, “Heckuva job, Brownie.” That says it all.

Cantor and other like thinking Republicans need to change their approach to the peoples’ needs and business.

After all, they represent us, and this is our tax money which should go to people in need now.

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