As the weather gets nastier and deadlier with more and more record breaking tornadoes and floods and wildfires around the country, the majority party in the House of Representatives have done the unspeakable. They have played politics with Federal Disaster Aid. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that tornado victims in Joplin, MO, would only get emergency relief if money could be diverted from somewhere else in the federal budget.
The GOP are so obsessed with reducing the deficit and debt that they are losing their sense of moral priorities. While balancing spending sounds sensible, I just have three questions. Firstly, where were these Congressmen and women when the deficit started exploding in 2004 when they took over Congress and a fellow Republican was in the White House? I heard nary a peep when billions were spent on two wars, a new Homeland Security Department, and tax breaks were given to corporations and the wealthy. Conservative fiscal responsibility? I think not.
Secondly, how can anyone in good conscience put disaster relief on the table? Is not the main function of government to protect and support its citizens? If FEMA funding is put to question, why not also the Pentagon spending or entitlements or tax reform (raising taxes for the top 1% and big business)?
Thirdly, why do the Republicans in the House want to ax a clean-car program to pay for the FEMA funds? The under-funded Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program at the Department of Energy was designed to help the nation wean off fossil fuels and also create cleaner air and cut down on CO2 emissions which, according to many scientists, contribute to global warming.
But the GOP have their heads in the sand, vehemently denying such a thing as climate change exists as the polar caps are melting, islands are disappearing, oceans are getting warmer and rising while dangerous weather patterns over the globe are becoming more severe and more frequent.
The irony is that if more is not done to create green energy, cut CO2 emissions, and clean up polluted air and water, these climate related disasters will continue and in fact, worsen in numbers and size.
I believe part of the reason we are in such an economic mess is because we have had to pay so much in disaster funds over the last decade. In 2010, FEMA reported 81 disasters after having 60 years of averaging 33 a year. Economic damage exceeded $6.7 billion. And that doesn't include 2011 with its record tornadoes and floods. So yes, the cost should be scrutinized but solutions to prevent these weather events should be explored. Cutting green energy initiatives is not the answer. In fact, it is idiotic. It's like pouring gasoline on a burning barn.
As Brad Johnson from the Wonkroom put it, referring to the Joplin, MO tornado:
"The deadliest twister in U.S. history since 1947 is the latest multi-billion-dollar climate disaster in this season of unprecedented death and destruction. Scientists have warned for decades that our climate system would grow deadlier as greenhouse pollution from coal and oil increases, with greater floods, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and storms. Instead of responding to reality by mobilizing our nation to protect people from climate disasters and build a resilient, green economy, Republicans are keeping us tethered to big oil."
With the GOP in charge, it's a vicious circle of pollution caused climate disasters creating economic costs, cutting green energy (thus not bringing any solutions), leading to more weather related disasters etc.
No wonder everyone gave so much attention to Harold Camping, who predicted the end of the world. The way we are going, it makes me fear for tomorrow's generations. I have heard many Republicans speak of how we are mortgaging our grandchildren's future with a mountain of debt. How about leaving them with a polluted planet with rising temperatures and continued natural disasters? Which is worse: debt or no planet? It's a no brainer to me. But then it is hard to see the light with one's head in the sand.