Astonishingly, and not content to lose New York's 26th
congressional district to a Democrat for the first time since anyone
can remember, the Republican leadership -- in the person of House
majority leader Eric Cantor - has poured salt an open wound by proposing
to withhold aid to the states most hard hit by tornados in the last
week unless there is an exchange with offsetting spending cuts by
Congress. The Virginia Republican said "if there is support for a
supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to
To this writer at least,
it appears Cantor handed the Democrats yet another issue on which to
campaign in 2012: that of being about as coldhearted as, well, as the
proverbial banker. It should be even more evident to any voter that
Cantor's statement comes just a few days after House Republicans voted
not to close tax loopholes for the energy industry, protecting $40
billion in tax breaks and subsidies to Big Energy, which is enjoying
record profits. In essence, it took Cantor less than a heartbeat to
make a political issue out of a disaster which so far counts more than
300 American dead and as many as 1300 missing.
Needless to say, Cantor is getting plenty of pushback in
the states most affected by tornado damage. The Republican reaction to
a disaster from even no less a conservative than Tom DeLay, who
advocated for immediate, no-questions-asked aid to the victims of
Hurricane Katrina will definitely be an issue in the upcoming campaign
Ron Paul, the muddle-headed Texas congressman and Tea Party presidential candidate, a party which constitutes a very healthy percentage of the GOP now, has said that tornado victims should not be given any help at all, while his governor, Rick Perry, whines that FEMA isn't giving Texas enough money in the wake of the recent wildfires devastating the Lone Star state..
lesson is clear. On one level, Americans believe that in some way
government is "too big," yet, when asked whether or not spending
reductions should affect those governmental agencies which protect
their food, water, banking, transportation, financial policies, parks,
medical needs, etc., and of course disaster relief, they are overwhelmingly for having the fed step into the breach.
2012 Democratic platform will be built in large measure on asking
Americans to decide on what course to pursue. The weather disasters in
the Midwest, in the heart of tea partyism, shine a bright light on that
precise question. Will we swim together or sink individually?
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