House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., suggested Joplin, Mo., would get no emergency federal funding unless cuts were made or taxes were raised. Cantor and the GOP are worried so much about where those chips will fall that they aren’t reacting like human beings. Humans respond in times of crisis; they don’t use the crisis to prove a political point.
The comments made by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va, are appalling, disgusting and sickening.
At a weekly press conference on the Tuesday after the Joplin, Mo., tornado, Cantor said the following: “I can tell you, if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by having support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.”
Simply put, Cantor suggested Joplin would get no emergency federal funding unless cuts were made or taxes were raised. Since the Republicans aren’t about to raise taxes, it means no aid for Joplin unless cuts are made elsewhere.
Fortunately, the House Appropriations Committee found $1 billion that week to boost FEMA’s disaster relief funds –– not necessarily just for Joplin –– with funds found elsewhere. That $1 billion was approved by the House on Friday.
But $1 billion won’t be enough. That’s just the start. Joplin will need an estimated $1 to $3 billion alone, and that doesn’t take into account the devastation in Reading, Kan., or Minnesota or Massachusetts or Oklahoma or anywhere else in the country, nor those affected by floods.
Then Cantor went on “Face the Nation” and defended his argument. He said that Congress will find the money, and it will be offset. He further compared the tragedy in Joplin to a “family.”
“When a family is struck with tragedy –– like the family of Joplin –– let’s say if they had $10,000 set aside to do something else with –– to buy a new car –– and then they were struck with a sick member of the family or something and needed to take that money to apply it to that. That’s what they would do because families don’t have unlimited money.
“And really, neither does the federal government,” Cantor said.
There are so many things wrong with that statement that a whole editorial could be written about it. Instead, we’ll just move on to our point: Cantor and company are not interested in helping Joplin. They are interested in helping only if their political goals are met.
Several GOP officials, including Gov. Haley Barbour, Miss., and Rep. Roy Blunt, Mo., have gone against their own party’s leadership (and Cantor) in denouncing budget cuts in order to find funds for Joplin.
We could point out that the GOP and Cantor are willing to help out Joplin only if cuts are made, which fits with their argument that they are only willing to raise the national debt limit if cuts are made –– even though they voted four times during the Bush administration for debt limit raises without any cuts.
We could point out that $1 to $3 billion is just a drop in the bucket compared to the $700 billion bank bailout, which Cantor and other GOP members voted for in 2008.
And we could point out how returning millionaires’ and billionaires’ taxes back to 1990s levels –– something Cantor and others have opposed –– could easily have paid for Joplin while also helping with the national deficit.
Instead, we will merely point out that now is not the time for Cantor’s budget shenanigans. In times of crisis, everything else must be put aside. In times of crisis, people respond.
After the tornado, families and organizations went out and bought food and water for their neighbors, and they donated clothes, time, effort, energy and money. They did that because it was an emergency situation, a crisis.
Did everyone have the money and time and food and water to be able to give? No, but they did it anyway. They let the chips fall where they may.
Cantor and the GOP are worried so much about where those chips will fall that they aren’t reacting like human beings. Humans respond in times of crisis; they don’t use the crisis to prove a political point.
It doesn’t matter to the people of Joplin whether cuts are made or not. It matters that the help and funds they so desperately need are there.
Cantor doesn’t realize that there will be plenty of time to debate debt-limit increases and health care changes and everything else in the future. Right now, there is a crisis. And the crisis must take precedence over everything else.
When crisis comes, the only proper response is to respond immediately and without conditions. If you can’t or won’t do that, get out of the way for those who can and will.
-- The Morning Sun (Kan.)