Senator Ted Cruz (R/TP-TX), along with Governor Rick "I-will-make-Washington-DC-inconsequential-in-your- lives" Perry, has reportedly requested federal aid for West, a town that suffered a devastating industrial accident this past week.
I suspect West's citizens voted for Ted Cruz and support Rick Perry, but I do not really care. If West needs help, we should help them without delay. (If the company were negligent, it should pay too, and perhaps even be charged with criminal negligence, but that is another story entirely.)
While the president, as he should, remains above this fray, Senate Democrats should make this a "teachable moment" by insisting on a few simple conditions:
1. Senator Cruz must lead the fight for aid on the Senate floor. He must explain why federal government aid for West is good and necessary. He must also explain why federal money is justifiable only in an acute disaster, and not in a chronic disaster such as joblessness. The American people deserve to know why one is good, true and beautiful, and the other bad, false and ugly. And none of this "starting us on a path" crap. He must also explain why giving West's wealthiest citizens a tax-cut, instead of federal relief money, is not sufficient.
2. Governor Perry must agree to the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Health Care Act.
3. $1.5 billion Affordable Health Care Act implementation money must be attached to the Texas relief bill. In the hurricane Sandy aid bill that Cruz voted against, there was money for additional projects, and Cruz has claimed that he voted against it because of those additions. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified recently that Affordable Health Care Act implementation funding has been lacking -- well, let the Senate attach it to this bill, and see if Senator Cruz votes against it for the same reason.
4. Senators Mike Lee (R/TP-UT) and Rand Paul (R/TP-KY) must vote for it.
None of these is too much to ask nor would delay aid to Texas as the right-wing did to the northeast's Sandy relief.
The first is just an act of will by Cruz himself, although it will be fascinating to hear Cruz's patron, Heritage Foundation leader Jim DeMint, comment on the injury to "freedom" that this relief will cause.
The second is not only just an act of will by Governor Perry, but also forces him to acknowledge, by deed if not by word, that aid for lower income families' health care is as justifiable as aid for the consequences of an industrial disaster. If Washington, D.C. is not so inconsequential for West, let him make it similarly "not inconsequential" for Texas' national disgraceful record 25 percent uninsured.
The third, Affordable Health Care Act implementation money, forces Cruz to prove that the reason he voted against the Sandy victims was really additional funding, or to demonstrate his rank hypocrisy when it comes to his own constituents. We might as well get the $1.5 billion Affordable Healthcare Act implementation money from this, so tens of millions of Americans' healthcare is no longer the victim of right-wing theology. The right-wing wants to make Affordable Healthcare Act implementation difficult and then blame the president. If Cruz wants aid for West to relieve its suffering, he should be forced to abandon that cruelty toward others.
The last, #4, is admittedly a throwaway. Mike Lee has asserted that FEMA is unconstitutional. Rand Paul's Daddy, Ron, asserted that FEMA was an impediment to recovery. Let us see if Cruz can prevail on his whacko colleagues to help him out here.
That, of course, is just the Senate. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) may decide to delay everything because he has to find money currently helping poor people survive to pay for the Texas federal relief package. But, that is a right-wing decision to delay, not the Senate Democrats.'
Or, perhaps tax-cuts for the wealthiest West (TX) residents is all that is needed, isn't that right Eric?
It would be a mistake for the country to miss this "teachable moment" because once this dam is breached, so much else, such as spending to create more desperately needed jobs, may become possible.