‘Emergency’ Sandy relief bill shows Washington’s fiscal folly

Alternate headline: “This is why we’re screwed.” The Obama administration and Senate Democrats have proposed $60.4 billion in spending, some of which may not have anything to do with helping people recover from the superstorm that hit the Northeast this fall. But the entire lot is being rushed through as part of the “emergency” spending package that has to be passed RIGHT NOW according to Democrats — even though, according to the Congressional Budget Office, only about one-third of the money will be spent in the next 21 months.

What else is the dough going for, if not for immediate relief? Jamie Dupree has the full list of items on his AJC.com blog. ABC News reports that millions of dollars are for federal agency spending that is unrelated, or only tangentially related, to Hurricane Sandy. Another $13 billion of it is tabbed to help mitigate future disasters. Those particular mitigation measures may or may not make sense, and it’s hard to know which are worthwhile and which aren’t when Congress is being asked to allocate the money in such a rushed fashion. For the non-immediate needs, it would be very helpful for Congress to have more time to study them before spending almost three times as much as President Obama’s cherished “Buffett Rule” would generate in new revenue.

And that’s the proper way to look at the bulk of this spending. As ABC News notes, that $60 billion represents almost all the new revenue the federal government would take in next year if Congress also were to pass Obama’s “deficit reduction” bill. We are perhaps days away from going over the so-called fiscal cliff because Obama and congressional Republicans can’t agree about cutting existing spending. So it seems absolutely crazy to rush through a new appropriations bill in the name of “emergency” disaster relief when two-thirds of the money — as much as the annual amount of spending Obama is talking about possibly, maybe, potentially, perhaps being willing to cut in negotiations that just might take place next year if the GOP gives him everything he wants on taxes now — is not going to be spent until sometime in 2014 or after.

Yes, folks, this kind of attitude is exactly why our fiscal condition is so dire. The GOP should insist on funding only what is absolutely necessary now, and discuss the rest next year when said discussion can be more rational.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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414 comments Add your comment

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
10:59 am

And if we don’t pass it now, we’ll go over the Hurricane Cliff, right?

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
11:02 am

You Republicans got stomped, wah. The American people spoke, blah. I’m eating my popcorn and giggling to myself.

Choke on that, cons.

(Just wanted to preempt Jamvet’s next post.)

Pizzaman

December 14th, 2012
11:05 am

If we wait for the GOP to fund anything but tax breaks for the wealthy we’ll all be dead.

Ronald Reagan

December 14th, 2012
11:07 am

I think the President could have done more for the storm victims! It’s a shame he couldn’t handle it!

Pizzaman

December 14th, 2012
11:08 am

How appropriate. A Blue Cross commercial with ahahahahahahahahahahahah across it was running when I read this.

JF McNamara

December 14th, 2012
11:09 am

Coming from hurricane country, I’m inclined to disagree. Allocate the money, so that they don’t do the same to us when we need the help.

The list, aside for the discretionary $17B which probably needs good oversight, seems fine.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
11:11 am

This is why the libs blubbered and whined about Katrina. No PorkFest under Bush’s watch.

Georgia

December 14th, 2012
11:11 am

how much did Sandy relief concert raise?

ATL Tiger

December 14th, 2012
11:16 am

United States President Grover Cleveland vetoed an expenditure that
would have provided $10,000 of federal aid to drought-stricken Texas
farmers. When explaining to Congress why such an appropriation of
taxpayer money was inappropriate, he stated:

“I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution;
and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government
ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in
no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A
prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and
duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson
should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the
Government, the Government should not support the people. … The
friendliness and charity of our fellow countrymen can always be relied
on to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune. This has been
repeatedly and quite lately demonstrated. Federal aid in such cases
encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the
Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character, while
it prevents the indulgence among our people of that kindly sentiment
and conduct which strengthens the bonds of a common brotherhood.”

MANGLER

December 14th, 2012
11:17 am

Based on your logic of not knowing what future risks are so why should be pay for mitigating them now … which is essentially what you just said …
Eliminate the DOD and close the Pentagon. There’s $700B annually right there. Done. Budget woes Solved.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
11:33 am

So, what you are saying is that if they assign this $60 billion to the effort(s), they MUST spend that money. Projects that have been funded in writing but not scheduled to begin until next year MUST spend the money and no one will be evaluating the project’s necessity at that time?

1961_Xer

December 14th, 2012
11:35 am

Emergency aid is for emergencies… not for mitigating possible future disasters. It is out of the generosity of the U.S. Taxpayer that we help folks until they get on their feet again.

It is not the responsibility of the U.S. taxpayer to make NJ and NY “whole”, and that is what this bill does. Separate EMERGENCY RELIEF from this bill, and fund that. Everything else is the responsibility of the states and individuals … including future flood preparation.

MarkV

December 14th, 2012
11:36 am

One might be tempted to agree with Kyle that such a bill should not be rushed through, if it were not for the exaggeration involved. A cursory examination of the list shows that about two thirds of the 60 billion has been, indeed, designated as directly related to hurricane Sandy. A closer examination of smaller items would most likely add quite a bit to the total.

There is also the question about how valuable is for the Congress to have more time to do the “studying.” What are they spending their time on anyway? I have serious doubts about the Congress’ qualification to make informed decision about spending funds “to assess water quality impact from partially treated or raw sewage and contaminated runoff and fund necessary repairs to damaged EPA facilities,” or for “fishery disasters declared by the Secretary of Commerce in 2012,” etc. In the past we have seen too many senators and representatives mocking programs on the basis of the title without any understanding of the issues involved just to get political spotlight.

Finally, just as with amy domestic spending: What is the effect on the economy?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
11:39 am

The GOP should insist on funding only what is absolutely necessary now

Yes, kiddies, don’t think about your retirement or what possibly could happen economically between now and then. You pay $1,000 in rent per month now? Just plan on paying $1,000 in rent per month in 50 years.

Another $13 billion of it is tabbed to help mitigate future disasters

Wait long enough and everyone will forget there’s an issue and we can sidestep this little expensive problem.

MrLiberty

December 14th, 2012
11:39 am

The American Red Cross is supposedly sitting on $75 million in aid that they have yet to distribute. I don’t know how much the concert the other night raised, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t upwards of $1 billioin dollars. Before we just start throwing money at problems (all unconstitutional as another poster correctly noted (with the help of Grover Cleveland), maybe we should see what the charitable hearts of americans can VOLUNTARILY contribute before we resort to the age-old method of stealing that government employs (they really have no other means of gaining revenue – even borrowing or printing money ultimately involve stealing from someone).

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

December 14th, 2012
11:46 am

Crisis mode is the only way Barry knows how to govern, gotta pass it to find out what is in it, hurry, hurry, America is in need, blah, blah. Obviously the committee approach of examining and debating bills is not in his DNA. He speaks, we jump, he thinks.

The bill should be DOA in the House or amended to death, taking out all the candy. Grover Cleveland must be rolling over in his grave watching the decline of America. An America where people are labeled cornball brothers because they can think for themselves, are educated, and can effectively speak English.

An America where we resent achievement instead of celebrate it.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
11:46 am

mitigating future disasters

Screw that. Jesus is coming and he will take most of us to heaven.

Remember James Watt from the Reagan admin? He thought we should try to use up all the earth’s resources as quickly as possible because Jesus was due at any minute to take us to heaven. Smoke em if you got em.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
11:53 am

WOW

Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as “health foods” people should eat every day. It even persuaded the American Heart Association to certify beef as “heart healthy.”

http://www.kansascity.com/beef/

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

December 14th, 2012
11:58 am

Gee Finn, getting all flush over the evils of “Big Beef”. Where is the outrage over “Big Government”?

Aquagirl

December 14th, 2012
11:59 am

Before we just start throwing money at problems (all unconstitutional as another poster correctly noted (with the help of Grover Cleveland), maybe we should see what the charitable hearts of americans can VOLUNTARILY contribute

We did try that experiment, it ended in 1789. Sorry you don’t like the 21st century, but that sure doesn’t stop you from complaining about it on the internet.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:05 pm

Well, Rafe, I don’t see “Big Gubmint” as being as much of a REAL THREAT to America as I do the lobbying industries.

But you go ahead and keep viewing our federally-employed soldiers, doctors, managers, janitors, engineers, social workers, mail carriers, firemen, policemen, judicial officials, and on and on as THE ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES.

Bruno

December 14th, 2012
12:06 pm

For the non-immediate needs, it would be very helpful for Congress to have more time to study them before spending almost three times as much as President Obama’s cherished “Buffett Rule” would generate in new revenue.

Out of curiosity, Kyle, what were you expecting from the Dems?? Fiscal responsibility?? Sensible governance?? I think all of the post-election gloating, now continued by the lightweight Libs on the blog, should have been your clue.

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

December 14th, 2012
12:08 pm

Obama thought we should try to use up all the money we could print, as quickly as possible, because….

Finn, does Obama believe in the Mayan solution, we are going to soon run out of people in need, or that Jesus is coming soon, or what? I know the first part of the sentence is true, I just haven’t figured out how to finish the sentence, any suggestions?

Rafe Hollister preparing for an Obamanist America

December 14th, 2012
12:12 pm

But you go ahead and keep viewing our federally-employed soldiers, doctors, managers, janitors, engineers, social workers, mail carriers, firemen, policemen, judicial officials, and on and on as THE ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES.

Everything in moderation works best! Too much of anything is bad for you! Didn’t your mother teach you that Finn? Too much water will kill you, but water is very good for you.

“He who governs least, governs best.” T. Jefferson

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:19 pm

You know, if I lived in a country where I felt like the entire government was out to get me; if I was so disturbed by the size and reach of that government (Big Gubmint) that I practically wet my pants every time I saw a federal official, I would have the stones to stop supporting that government and supplying it with my tax dollars by moving the eff out of it.

But some just like to complain non-stop….and constantly change their drawers.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
12:20 pm

Finn McCool (The System isn’t Broken; It’s Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
11:53 am

WOW

Big Beef is using its political pull, public relations campaigns and the supportive science it sponsors to influence federal dietary guidelines and recast steaks and burgers as “health foods” people should eat every day.

Trying to stop your “girlfriends” from getting carved up?

Women who cut red meat out of their diet are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a study.

Does that^^ not answer a lot of your questions about the libs?

Rightwing Troll

December 14th, 2012
12:20 pm

Not gloating… just a lot of pointing and laughing as you lying old cranks continue to tilt at windmills…

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:21 pm

Women who cut red meat out of their diet are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a study.

Well, Aesop has his excuse for why he can’t get any. Whatever works for you, man.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:27 pm

Women who cut red meat out of their diet are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to a study.

So we should carry beef jerky in our pockets and hang prime rib around the house. Keep our women in a good mood?

Georgia

December 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

Because of the collapse of my 401k valuation, my new retirement plan is to make my own beef jerky, so if anyone needs any, I’ve got plenty.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
12:33 pm

McFool – Put two and two together. Con women eat meat, are contented and bare their babies. Lib women don’t eat meat, are freakish angry people that rip and tear their babies from their womb.

Have you EVER met a happy lib chick? Puh-leeze.

Lynnie Gal

December 14th, 2012
12:34 pm

Let me get this straight. First of all, the cons don’t “believe” in global warming and block all efforts to find solutions. Then, when storms, droughts and floods become more frequent and more intense, just like scientists said would happen, you don’t want to pay money to help the victims. It must be nice to live in that safe, smug little con world where bad things happen to other people, not to me. May not always be so, though. “There but for the grace of God go I…”

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

you don’t want to pay money to help the victims.

Well, until they are on the other end of the weather bat. Then you can’t keep them off the phone lines to FEMA, etc.

“Where is FEMA? Where is MY trailer? I PAY taxes! Get MY trailer here now!”

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

If some of you aren’t going to bother to read what I actually wrote — which was not that Congress shouldn’t spend this money under any circumstance, just that not all of it qualifies as “emergency” spending that has to be rushed through now with funding that actually is time-sensitive — I’m not going to bother to respond to you.

Well, I guess I did just respond to some of you …

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
12:42 pm

Then, when storms, droughts and floods become more frequent and more intense, just like scientists said would happen, you don’t want to pay money to help the victims.

Let me guess. We need to raise taxes to fix this, right?

Yawn…

When the Galveston Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on September 8th it brought a 15 foot tall storm surge along with 135mph winds, making it a category 4 hurricane. The Galveston Hurricane is the deadliest natural disaster to ever hit the US, claiming over 6,000 lives. The total damages exceeded $20 million in 1900 dollars, which is over $500 million in todays dollars.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
12:47 pm

They aren’t spending the money right now Kyle, they are just setting an amount aside so they can account for it. If I know I need to add a new roof in 2 years I might open a second savings account and sock money away there.

I may sell it before then and not need the money but it’s kinda….ummm, what is that word…ummm fiscally something…..ummm fiscally responsible! Yeah, a term completely forgotten – usually by those who claim to embrace it the most..

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

We’ve had drastically fewer hurricanes in the last 7 years, starting exactly the day that the libs told us there were going to be more of them, and now we have a lib saying they are more frequent?

Does anyone consider anything a lib says as being pertinent?

JDW

December 14th, 2012
12:51 pm

I think if the Republicans could be trusted to act as a normal legislative body then Kyle has a point, ideally you would rush the bill for the things really needed now and do the longer term planning later.

Problem is that this crop of Republicans simply does not act in good faith. The only way to get them to act is back them in a corner and not let them out. That is really what is going on here.

ObamaClaus

December 14th, 2012
12:59 pm

Quit squabbling over taxes and spending. It’s irrelevent as we have plenty of printing presses to print more money, and an endless supply of money and goods that can be taken from citizens. Aint ruling awesome?

ObamaClaus

December 14th, 2012
1:00 pm

I’m gonna spend it and take some more to give away!

JDW

December 14th, 2012
1:01 pm

@Aesop…”We’ve had drastically fewer hurricanes in the last 7 years,”

You might think that is a fable, but it is really more like an outright lie. Of the last 7 years 4 of those years are in the top 10 years with the greatest number of Atlantic Hurricanes since 1851 when records began. 2012, 2011 and 2010 all had 19 storms and tie for number 3 on the list…in other works hurricane activity is UP not down.

http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/top10.asp

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
1:05 pm

Problem is that this crop of Republicans simply does not act in good faith.

I can honestly say I can see the Cons in late 2013 holding Sandy spending hostage so they can get an anti-sharia law passed.

GOP = The party of Forrest Gumps.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
1:06 pm

I’m gonna spend it and take some more to give away!

Yeah, some of that money will be siphoned off for more Obamaphones, dontcha know.

Aesop's Fables and other Lib Economic Theories

December 14th, 2012
1:07 pm

JDW- How many of them made landfall in the US? If them tearing up the open seas is a byproduct of “global warming” then perhaps we need more of it?

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
1:08 pm

On a much more serious topic: anyone tried to transport a Sunfish boat on a car rooftop? Is it better than using a utility trailer?

Stephenson Billings

December 14th, 2012
1:11 pm

“They also point out that FEMA still has $5 billion in its Disaster Relief Fund — enough to last until March. Therefore, they see no reason to rush through a bill so large with no hearings or negotiations on the size of the bill or how to pay for it.”

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/12/sandy-aid-package-includes-millions-for-smithsonian-space-center-forests/

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

December 14th, 2012
1:14 pm

How many of them made landfall in the US?

That’s like saying “there are more forest fires in the US.”

Con says: But how many happen in Georgia each year? Our rate of occurrences haven’t changed. Therefore, your interpretation is false cause I look out ma window right now and don’t see nothing burning except Jimmie Bob’s trailer. Fool must be cooking the rock again.”

Don't Tread

December 14th, 2012
1:29 pm

Raise taxes to 100%….Higher taxes fix everything! Global warming, poverty, discrimination, AIDS, herpes, condescending in-laws, whiny 2-year-olds, and that cough you can’t quite get rid of.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

December 14th, 2012
1:30 pm

The libs don’t need to read your column any day, Kyle.

They’re the first to tell you they already know everything. . . .

Kyle Wingfield

December 14th, 2012
1:37 pm

Funny, JDW, but “this crop of Republicans” also doubts that the president and Senate Democrats “act in good faith” when it comes to spending.

Oh, and Finn @ 12:48: Thanks for your image of Washington carefully setting aside its pennies to pay for anticipated expenses so it doesn’t have to borrow to pay for them. I haven’t laughed that loudly in a very long time!