A refresher on that whole Hurricane Sandy federal aid fiasco
Talking Points Memo ran with this headline today:
The NY Daily News had the same “story” yesterday:
The TPM article itself isn’t necessarily wrong. It’s fairly straightforward. But in order to support the headline, along, drawn out Hill battle was completely omitted.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Wednesday assured Texans that the state would receive federal relief following major flooding, even though the senator opposed federal funding following Hurricane Sandy.
“There are a series of federal statutory thresholds that have to be satisfied. Initially, it appears those thresholds are likely to be satisfied by the magnitude of the damage we’re seeing,” Cruz said while touring the flooding in Wimberley, Texas, according to Texas television station KSAT. “Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting.”
TPM mentions Cruz voted against, “a federal aid package in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and claimed that he opposed the bill due to spending in the bill unrelated to storm relief.” Also true.
But what was in the Hurricane Sandy Relief package that caused such a fuss?
President Obama didn’t bother to request federal aid until a month after Hurricane Sandy leveled parts of the northeast, so the matter wasn’t one being treated with urgency. According to Heritage, who dissected the $60 billion bill:
Most of the funding, however, goes well beyond assisting actual victims. Moreover, none of the spending is offset by reductions elsewhere. It will be allowed to exceed current spending limits by exploiting two exceptions built into the Budget Control Act (BCA)—one for additional “disaster” relief funds, and another for “emergency” spending.
…Some of the items seem justified as mitigation of damage caused by Sandy. Much of the other funding is clearly not or is at least questionable.
…The legislation also contains $5.4 billion for repairing tunnels and other infrastructure damaged by the hurricane, another legitimate proposal.
Apart from that, much of the $60.4 billion in requested emergency spending is aimed at either mitigating future events and repairing or replacing federal assets. Of Obama’s requested items, less than $23 billion of the $60.4 billion involves addressing emergency damages sustained by state and local governments, private-sector businesses, and individuals.
As a point of perspective, with the vast majority of homes and businesses privately insured, the total cost estimate for the entire private industry is just more than $20 billion. Why is the federal spending proposal three times as large?
The Daily Signal wrote:
Not only does this act add to the deficit, but it is also reflects another symptom of government growth: over-federalization of natural disasters. In less than two years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued a stunning 353 disaster declarations—despite the absence of major hurricanes or earthquakes (except Hurricanes Irene and Sandy). This high operational tempo keeps FEMA in a perpetual response mode, leaving little time and few resources to prepare to handle a real catastrophic disaster, such as Hurricane Sandy.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R–NH) summed it up well: “[I]f a main goal of the Sandy relief legislation that passed the Senate was to quickly get resources into the hands of those who need it most, the final product fell short.”
Republicans in the Senate proposed amendments that would’ve specifically funded Hurricane Sandy relief efforts to a predictable end. But I’m sure that was left on TPM’s cutting room floor too.
So yes, it’s true Senator Cruz opposed the Hurricane Sandy relief package, but now you know why.
“TPM is a left-wing rag, of course they’re going to be misleading!”
I get it, I really do. Left uncontested, misinformation like this climbs its way up the news chain and into political lore. And we just can’t have that.
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