FEMA is broke. After providing disaster aid to wildfire victims in the southwest, tornado victims in the Midwest, earthquake damage in the northeast and now a hurricane along the eastern shore; the disaster relief agency is running out of funds. The Associated Press reports that FEMA has provided over $130 billion in disaster aid over the past two decades; $110 billion of which was provided as emergency funding in addition to the annual budget. FEMA officials report that there will be a shortfall of $5 billion for the upcoming budget year; and that is before accounting for Irene. There is $800 million left in the till. More money is needed.
Eric Cantor and his Republican cronies are willing to provide additional emergency funds…but only if offsetting spending cuts are found elsewhere. Defense is sacrosanct and tax increases need not apply.
This should come as no surprise. After all it was Cantor and the Tea Party conservatives that held unemployment compensation (i.e. food, clothing and shelter) for the needy as a hostage bargaining chip to get tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.
We have to wonder if Cantor and his buddies would be as steadfast in their conservative beliefs if a Republican President were occupying the White House. We have to wonder if Cantor and his buddies would be as steadfast in their conservative beliefs if Irene had devastated Manhattan and Wall Street; home to the power and money brokers who fuel Cantor’s Republican Party. History tells us the answer is “No”.
Where were Cantor and the Republicans when George W. Bush was taking the country into two unfunded wars? Where were Cantor and the Republicans when Bush was passing the unfunded prescription drug plan for seniors; the largest government welfare program since the depression? They were praising Bush for his patriotism and his benevolence…balanced budget be damned. Now they are singing a different tune.
Here’s a thought. If you want to fund FEMA how about stopping the $46 trillion in tax subsidies that you give to outrageously profitable big oil companies. Or how about cutting tax loopholes that allow billionaires to pay a smaller % in taxes than the secretaries who bring them coffee or the maids who clean their toilets.
Cantor is playing politics. You give something to get something in return. That’s how Washington works. We get that.
But bargaining with the lives of people whose have lost everything is not just politics. It’s just wrong.