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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Griper Blade: Republicans, Disasters, and Their Idea of a 'Real America'

Battered US flag flying over debris
Steve Benen believes we won't be seeing a big disaster relief fight over the tornado disaster in Oklahoma. I hope he's right. The Republican Party's refusal to fund relief after Hurricanne Sandy was shameful at best, anti-American at worst. While Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn quickly decided to hold his constituents hostage to budget cuts, he doesn't have a lot of allies in that effort. By yesterday, he was already forced into damage control mode and the rest of the GOP was taking the opposite position.

Many prominent Republicans sounded downright Democratic yesterday. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who opposed Sandy relief, said, "Finding some way to offset is not the priority. Meeting the known and immediate needs as quickly as possible is the priority." House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) added, "I really don't think disasters of this type should be offset. We have an obligation to help those people. We'll worry about our budgetary items back here, but the aid has to be there."

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said, "I think they should get every penny they need. I've been through this. We can do the political games later on, the important thing is to get them the aid as quickly as they need it and not to make a political issue out of it." Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) added, "[A]t the end of the day my objective here is to make sure the people here get the help they need in a timely fashion."
"Here's hoping we'll see a return to traditional American norms when it comes to post-disaster aid. For generations," Benen writes. "Congress didn't fight over offsets in the wake of a crisis, it simply moved to help American communities in their time of need. That changed after Republicans took control of the House in 2010, but given GOP reactions yesterday, we may be seeing the first signs that the party is rethinking the utility of its posture."

What we need to remember, however, was that Sandy happened right before the election. President Obama got a little bounce for his competent handling of the crisis and New Jersy Governor Chris Christie praised him for his leadership. It wasn't the deciding factor in the election, but it was a deciding factor, with 41% of respondents in a one exit poll saying it was either the "most important factor" in casting their vote or just an "important factor"...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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