Friday, November 2, 2012

Republican Ideology Endangers Real-World Disaster Relief

According to Joan McCarter at Kos and just about anyone else who has been alive and awake for the past decade, the Republican Party, and specifically Romney, Ryan, Cantor and others in the GOP leadership, have made an ideological point for years of insisting that FEMA shut its doors and leave disaster relief to the states. During GeeDubya Bush's administration, they did a pretty good job of almost killing FEMA. (Remember "Heckuva Job Brownie"?")

Unfortunately, no one informed Frankenstorm Sandy about state boundaries.

And as with Hurricane Katrina, no private-sector entity has any motivation to restore all that was damaged in a vast community tragedy. As an NYT editorial reminds us,
Over the last two years, Congressional Republicans have forced a 43 percent reduction in the primary FEMA grants that pay for disaster preparedness. Representatives Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and other House Republicans have repeatedly tried to refuse FEMA’s budget requests when disasters are more expensive than predicted, or have demanded that other valuable programs be cut to pay for them. The Ryan budget, which Mr. Romney praised as “an excellent piece of work,” would result in severe cutbacks to the agency, as would the Republican-instigated sequester, which would cut disaster relief by 8.2 percent on top of earlier reductions.
The GOP... it's the "we're all in this together Americans, you're on your own" party. Here's McCarter again:
It's all true. And even worse than the Times had room to detail. For instance, remember that Majority Leader Eric Cantor insisted last year that any increase in disaster aid funding had to come from cutting funds for equipping and training first responders by 40 percent. House Republicans nearly forced a government shutdown over disaster aid funding. They succeeded in forcing massive cuts to the program, passing a $2.65 billion bill for the disaster relief fund for the year, when the need is closer to $12 billion, annually. That's based on the average year, the average need. Hurricane Sandy is likely to blow that figure to smithereens.
Smithereens. Recent pictures of Staten Island bring that word to mind, too.

Our founders were not stupid people. Perhaps their vision 200 years into the future was sometimes clouded; they had no crystal ball, any more than we have. But enough of them understood the need for a federal government to prevail in framing the Constitution to assure an adequate amount of federal power to meet the emergencies we face as a nation. That power exists today.

Unless Republicans use the built-in safeguards not for their intended purpose but rather to obtain their own narrow, selfish aims, at the cost of abandoning our storm-stricken fellow Americans.

As rumors fly that GOPers are planning to do just that, maybe this would be a good time to contact Mr. Cantor and remind him of his duty to the entire American public... and that there's an election in a few days, and if he plays politics with the lives of Sandy's victims, all of us... not just those in the stricken states... will remember when we go to the polls.

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