Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Rich White Folks: "Please pay for our failure to plan for disaster!"

So, now that the Fiscal Cliff has been solved*, it appears the next fight is over the funding of a Sandy Relief bill.  Apparently, the Northeastern United States (arguably one of the richest geographic regions, per capita, on the planet) cannot pay to clean up after Hurricane Sandy without the help of people in Topeka, Kansas.

Because of this, the Senate introduced a bill to pay for the cleanup and rebuilding of those portions of the NE that were smashed by the storm.  They then proceeded to load it with so much pork, Oscar Meyer was planning to sue.  Some of the money in the bill was going to go to such hard hit areas as... Alaskan fisheries.  Yes, really.

So, in one of their few laudable moves of the last two years, the Republican House blocked the bill.  They currently aren't even planning to bring it to a vote, as far as I can tell.

Immediately, the long knives came out.  From Republicans.  See, apparently it is completely verboten to even consider that individuals should have their own plans for possible disasters, let alone States.  So it shouldn't matter how much unnecessary spending is in the "relief" bill, it should just be passed without question.

Now, I'm not a fan of this federal disaster relief anyway.  I wasn't a fan of it for Hurricane Alex in the 90s.  I wasn't a fan of it for Katrina or Rita.  I'm not a fan of it for Sandy.  I'm sorry, but I simply cannot find the provision of the Constitution which empowers Congress to spend one red cent on "disaster relief."

For an example of what I do support, I point to Texas's "Rainy Day fund."  This is a special fund which we have set aside to pay for disasters in Texas.  We have been very, very good about not taking money out for purely budgetary concerns (well, as good as we can expect from politicians), and really using it as an emergency fund.  It served us well when cleaning up after Rita.  It served us well again when fighting massive wildfires in 2011.  In the case of the wildfires, it was the only money we had to pay for firefighters and cleanup, because the Federal Government (that is: the SCOAMT) refused to acknowledge the wildfires as a Natural Disaster (which would have opened the way for some federal loans, mostly).

It may seem harsh to say, "clean it up yourselves," but remember this: I think everyone should clean up their own disasters.  I don't think people from New York should be on the hook for tornadoes, wild fires, or even hurricanes in Texas.  I don't think people in Arizona should be on the hook for earthquakes in California.

Nevertheless, a relief bill will be passed.  My arguments have been voiced many times before, and the country has decided they're without merit.  But why is it out of line to ask for a few extra days so that a clean bill can be proposed and passed?  Why must it be done immediately, and full of pork?

*By which I mean: totally not solved, and only barely kicked down the road

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