Offsetting New FEMA Spending is Reality, Not Politics
Yesterday, President Obama trekked up to flooded Patterson, New Jersey. There, he vowed federal funds would be forthcoming and told residents the “last thing” they “need isWashingtonpolitics getting in the way.” Refusing to add to our nation’s dangerously high debt is not politics it is responsible.
Following Hurricane Irene, it became clear FEMA’s disaster relief fund would soon run out of cash. The agency has already announced a prioritization plan (sound familiar?) while they await additional funding. But with our federal debt at $14.6 trillion and counting, we cannot go down the business-as-usual path of deficit spending. Last week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor laid out the position of House Republicans, saying, “those monies are not unlimited. And what we’ve always said is, we’ve offset that which has already been funded.”
This set the political left and the White House ablaze. Words like “abhorrent,” “hostage” and “fiasco” were thrown about. But notice Mr. Cantor never said Republicans did not want to provide more disaster relief, he simply insisted those funds be offset with cuts elsewhere so we do not add to our nation’s dangerously high debt. If President Obama is “very committed to fiscal discipline,” as the White House insists, he should support this effort.
Considering that federal spending increased by $160 billion a year on average over the past decade, it should not be difficult to find cuts to offset additional aid for those affected by this storm. In fact, the Republican-controlled House already appropriated an additional $1 billion in disaster relief this year and another $2.65 billion next year. But the Senate has refused to consider the proposal.
Disaster relief is on the way, the question is whether Congress will simply add to the debt again. And the New York Times points out President Obama’s double standard:
For as much as the White House and lawmakers throughout the Northeast have asserted that the government’s response to the storm should not be a political issue, Mr. Obama’s visit carried an unmistaken political subtext on several fronts.
President Obama and his friends are the ones who are playing politics. What was that old saying…never let a good crisis go to waste?