Hurricane Sandy has come along and put a hold on campaigning in the Presidential election. While the East Coast is distracted with more important things over here in Western Kentucky we can still think politics. And since a massive storm has come along to slow things down a bit it got me to thinking. What would be the Romney/Ryan vision for Americans that are beset by similiar tragedies if they do indeed win the White House.
Well, the answer turns out to be just as much a tragedy as the weather for Americans that will face such challenges. You see, it appears as if Mitt Romney's plan for disaster relief includes offsetting any monies needed with budget cuts elsewhere, or worse yet just outsourcing responsibility to already cash-strapped states, or worse yet leaving victims of natural disasters at the mercy of the private sector to be exploited for profits as they try and rebuild their lives:
At least three times, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have publicly demanded that the federal government only disburse disaster relief funding if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts elsewhere. This would hold desperately-needed disaster relief funding hostage unless Congress agreed to cuts elsewhere in the budget, an extraordinarily difficult prospect even in normal circumstances.
Last year, after a major tornado and flood struck the United States, Romney was asked in a debate about federal disaster relief funding. Romney not only suggested shuttering FEMA and sending responsibility for disaster relief "back to the private sector," but also said it would be "immoral" for the federal government to fund disaster relief efforts without cutting the budget elsewhere. "It makes no sense at all," Romney concluded.
Hey Mitt, wanna know what is really immoral? That folks like you crashed our economy with your greed and we all bailed you out. That folks like you have shipped our middle-class overseas and recieved tax cuts for it. That folks like you love the never-ending quest for profits more than your country or anyone within it. What is immoral is you paying less in taxes than a middle-class worker whose job you constantly seek to send to China.
What is immoral is leaving your fellow Americans who have been the victims of a natural disaster to fend for themselves unless you can slash benefits for other Americans. All to avoid asking folks like you sacrifice just a little more to the deficit you ran up and whine incessantly about.
Mitt Romney knows that most states simply cannot afford to respond to these disasters. If he actually outsources disaster relief to them, countless Americans would literally be dangling in the wind when these tragedies hit. Mitt Romney knows this, he just does not care and knows with his millions he and those like him have nothing to worry about no matter where a storm hits. Its simply not his problem.
And Paul Ryan? He even takes it further than Romney. He has long been a "pioneer" in denying disaster funds without slashing the budget elsewhere:
Ryan's 2012 budget took a similar approach to disaster funding. As The Hill noted in May 2012, Ryan's budget called for any disaster relief funding to "be fully offset within the discretionary levels provided in this resolution." In other words, Congress would have to agree on cuts elsewhere in the budget if it wanted to dole out funds after a disaster. This idea was so far out of the mainstream that even Republican legislators abandoned the idea. Ryan opposed Obama's efforts to build significant funding for disaster relief into the budget, a move intended to avoid the kinds of delays forced by Cantor and the Tea Party last year.
This is not a new position for Ryan. Long before he entered the political limelight, Ryan was still pushing a similar line on disaster funding. In a March 23, 2004 speech on the House floor, Ryan proposed that any emergency spending legislation, including disaster relief, be automatically offset by an "across-the-board" budget cut. After proposing legally-binding spending limits, Ryan bemoaned the fact that these emergency spending items "do not have to be paid for under our current budget rules." Automatic cuts, Ryan explained, would help Congress offset funding that went to disaster relief.
I think Americans successfully saw during Hurricane Katrina what Republican leadership that simply does not care about the plight of most of the country causes. However, in that case even George W. Bush did not argue that the federal government should not be allowed to respond or that the funds used for relief be offset somewhere else. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in that regard are even worse than President Bush.
All I want to ask those who would vote for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan is what if the next natural disaster is in your back yard? What if your damage cannot be repaired unless a disabled veteran in another state loses his foodstamps? Or worse yet, what if the responsibility for your disaster fell to your state, which has very little money to spare? Even worse than that, what if your neighborhood just after your disaster was filled with vultures who were trying to take advantage of your situation to make millions of dollars off you??
This is the Romney/Ryan vision for America. An America where folks like them are allowed a free pass on everything and are responsible for nothing. An America where states are burdened with not only their own responsibilities but responsibilities of the federal government also. An America where you are left to fend for yourself no matter what happens.
But of course this is all part of the Republican plan to strip the federal government of any power. They do not like the fact that the federal government makes laws and regulations that keep them from preying upon their fellow Americans. They do not even think Americans deserve a federal government that will provide relief from disasters nobody could have predicted.
Thomas Jefferson once stated that government is a "necessary evil". He knew that as long as human beings were tasked with operating something it would always be imperfect. However, he had the vision to know that sometimes Americans would need government.
Which is why I am a Democrat and a Progressive. I believe that the government ideed has uses and those who whine about it do so because they simply do not want to have to follow rules and regulations. In the case of disaster relief it all boils down to the same argument and the same problem with Romney/Ryan.
They simply do not want to have to sacrifice for anything that helps their country as a whole. They consider it their birthright to slop at the government trough for Corporate Welfare, tax cuts for outsourcing jobs, and no-risk investments as we bail them out for their greed. However, let a working American, even one beset by a natural tragedy ask for anything, and we are treated like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel.