Posts tagged "Disaster Relief"

At a speech in August, South Carolina state senator Lee Bright, who is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham for the Republican nomination, warned that IRS “Brown Shirts” might start enforcing Obamacare with semiautomatic rifles.

Bright cited a conspiracy theory promoted by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), who started spreading the alarm in June when he witnessed “IRS agents are training with a semi-automatic rifle AR-15.” In real life, this is because the IRS has a criminal investigations unit that has since the 1920s pursued drug traffickers and other criminal organizations, and which during the Bush administration started providing extra support for anti-terrorism efforts – activities which require special agents to be “equipped similarly to other federal, state and local law enforcement organizations.”

But according to Bright, “If that’s true, and they’re going to assault weapons training, the brownshirts are next. Because that’s the enforcement group for Obamacare is the IRS. And if you don’t have an IRS, you don’t have Obamacare.”

We stumbled across Bright’s speech thanks to the Charleston City Paper , which had sent a reporter to the event.

After Bright presented his theory about the IRS-Obamacare Brown Shirts, an audience member asked him what he thought of various anti-government conspiracy theories, including that “FEMA is training a militia.”

“Most of the federal government is a scam,” Bright said, adding that “FEMA is the biggest scam in the world.”

To make his point, Bright told a story of the mayor of Charleston, South Carolina asking for private donations to help with the relief from an earthquake and getting so many that he had to stop accepting aid – all without the help of FEMA. We would really like to know what earthquake he is talking about that was small enough that FEMA wouldn’t intervene but large enough that it required a large-scale private donations effort.

In fact, FEMA has aided in a number of recent South Carolina disasters, including providing more than $8.3 million in aid to Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

Later in the speech, Bright claimed that federal earthquake and tornado relief, along with food assistance, were not the role of the federal government and were just being used to “get votes.” We’ve previously reported on Bright’s mocking of food stamp recipients.

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

(via Tom Coburn On Disaster Relief: Status Quo Means People ‘Don’t Have To Be Responsible’ For State)

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) reiterated on Sunday that he won’t support additional disaster relief funding without spending cuts elsewhere — even after tornadoes ripped apart his own state last week.

"We’ve created kind of a predicate, that you don’t have to be responsible for what goes on in your state," he said on CBS’ "Face the Nation" while discussing the success Oklahoma has had in using state and private funds after the tornadoes.

Coburn said he doesn’t oppose any federal money going toward the state, however.

"Big storms like [Hurricane] Sandy, or like this tornado — there’s certain things that we can’t do that we need the federal government to do," he said.

The Oklahoma senator has been consistently opposed to disaster funding without offsets, but some expected that to change in the wake of the devastation to his state. But Coburn’s office quickly confirmed after the tornado that he would not be supporting disaster aid without offsetting the spending.

"That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid]," Coburn spokesman John Hart said Monday in a statement. "He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort."

On Thursday, Coburn responded to critics of his decision by saying they simply want to increase disaster funding so they can give it to their home states.

"It’s just typical Washington B.S.," Coburn said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There’s $11.6 billion sitting in a bank account waiting to help people in Oklahoma … It’s a crass political game, because I was being asked these questions before we even pulled the dead people out of the rubble.”

He criticized the current system again on Sunday, saying that the way damage is calculated should be changed instead.

"It disproportionately hurts the more populous states the way we do it, the economic indicator, the economic damage indicator, the way it’s calculated," he said on "Face the Nation." "So a large state like New Jersey or New York is disadvantaged under the system that we have today. Then, we ought to have priorities about how we fund it, instead of borrowing the money. And then we ought to make sure the money is actually for the emergency at hand, not for four or five years later, and not allow bills to be loaded up with things that actually have nothing to do with the emergency at hand."

The tornado that hit Oklahoma on Monday resulted in more than 20 deaths and is expected to cost the federal government untold billions of dollars in aid and recovery. But Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has long objected to federal funds being spent on everything from veterans benefits to relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, is already insisting that any additional appropriations should be paid for with cuts elsewhere. “That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Coburn spokesman John Hart said. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.”

Indeed, during his time in Congress, Coburn has portrayed his efforts to rein in federal spending as a principled stance against accumulating larger deficits and passing debt to future generations. But Coburn hasn’t always opposed government spending that is not offset by budget cuts. The senator known as “Doctor No” has voted to fund the war in Iraq, the 2008 bank bail out, and even relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

– 2005: The “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act” (H.R. 1268) provided $82 billion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coburn voted for the measure.

– 2006: The Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R.2863) provided approximately $40 billion for the war in Iraq. Coburn voted for the measure.

– 2006: “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act,” (H.R. 4939 ) provided $72 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Coburn voted for the measure.

– 2005: After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Congress passed two relief bills, allocating more than $50 billion and allowing the National Flood Insurance Program to borrow more money. One of the measures was adopted byunanimous consent and Coburn voted for the other.

– 2006: Congress approved a Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 5631), including approximately $70 billion for the war in Iraq. Coburn voted forthe measure.

– 2008: In October 2008, the Bush Administration and Congress enacted a rescue package to stabilize the financial system by creating the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Coburn voted in favor of the measure.

By insisting that funding for tornado relief be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget, Coburn representing his ideological purity rather than the needs of his Oklahoma constituents.

H/T: Igor Volsky at Think Progress

Suggesting his relationship with Congress — and members of his own party — has been irrevocably damaged, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Friday once again blasted Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for voting against disaster relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

"My relationship with Congress will never be the same again. They made us wait 90 to 100 days to give the most basic human aid that is required. It’s absolutely disgraceful," King said during an appearance on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe." "And when I see these Republicans, we slap each other on the back, all the camaraderie, ‘hey, we’re great friends.’ All I know is there were people who were close to dying in my district and no one gave a damn."

King told host Joe Scarborough that he’ll never forgive and forget the Republicans who opposed the relief bill.

"And by the way, guys like Marco Rubio in Florida. All the money that your people have gotten in Florida over the years from every hurricane that came along," King said. "And this guy has the nerve to vote against money for New York and then come up here and try to raise money. You know, he can forget it."

h/t: Talking Points Memo

When the Senate passed the long-delayed $50.5 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package Monday, 36 Republicans voted against the bill. But of the 32 no-votes from Senators who are not brand-new members, at least 31 came from Republicans who had previously supported emergency aid efforts following disasters in their own states.

Most incredible among the no voters were Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Those two had not just backed disaster aid in the past — they actually sought disaster aid for their own states for relief from Hurricane Sandy. And Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) endorsed disaster relief for snow storms damages in Arkansas just four days before casting his “nay” vote.

The “hypocritical” list includes:

1. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): Requested disaster aid after Hurricane Sandy.
2. John Barrasso (R-WY), Republican Policy Committee Chair: Requested disaster aid after flooding.
3. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Republican Conference Vice Chair: Demanded the Senate be called back from recess to pass disaster aid during a drought and boasts: “When a disaster surpasses the ability of states and communities to rebuild, Senator Blunt believes the federal government should prioritize spending to help the people whose lives and livelihoods are impacted. During his time in the Senate, he has fought tirelessly to ensure that Missouri gets its fair share of those federal resources specifically dedicated to disaster recovery.”
4. John Boozman (R-AR): Requested disaster aid after snow storms in January 2013.
5. Richard Burr (R-NC): Requested disaster aid after severe storms.
6. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA): Requested disaster aid after flooding.
7. Dan Coats (R-IN): Requested disaster aid after tornadoes.
8. Tom Coburn (R-OK): Requested disaster aid after winter storms and for extreme drought.
9. Bob Corker (R-TN): Requested disaster aid after flooding and asked for supplemental emergency flood relief.
10. John Cornyn (R-TX), Republican Minority Whip: Demanded drought relief aid and requested disaster aid for wildfires.
11. Mike Crapo (R-ID): Boasted of obtaining a FEMA fire safety grant and pushed for a bill providing emergency drought relief.
12. Mike Enzi (R-WY): Requested disaster relief after flooding.
13. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Requested disaster relief after freezing and boasted of obtaining emergency drought relief.
14. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Requested disaster relief after severe hail storms.
15. Orrin Hatch (R-UT): Requested disaster relief after flooding.
16. James Inhofe (R-OK): Boasted of obtaining disaster relief after severe storms and drought.
17. Johnny Isakson (R-GA): Requested disaster aid after flooding.
18. Mike Johanns (R-NE): Requested disaster relief after flooding and blasted Democrats for “inaction on disaster relief” for drought and wildfires.
19. Ron Johnson (R-WI): Requested disaster relief after a blizzard.
20. Mark Kirk (R-IL): Appealed after FEMA denied assistance following severe storms and tornadoes.
21. Mike Lee (R-UT): After calling federal disaster relief unconstitutional, endorsed relief aid after flooding in Utah.
22. John McCain (R-AZ): Endorsed disaster relief after flooding.
23. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Republican Minority Leader: Requested disaster relief during a drought and after tornadoes.
24. Jerry Moran (R-KS): Requested disaster relief after tornadoes.
25. Rand Paul (R-KY): Requested disaster relief during a drought and after tornadoes.
26. Rob Portman (R-OH): Endorsed disaster relief during a drought and after storms.
27. Pat Roberts (R-KS): Boasted of obtaining disaster relief after drought and wildfires and criticized the Bush administration for inadequate emergency relief after a blizzard.
28. Marco Rubio (R-FL): Requested disaster relief after severe freezing.
29. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): Requested disaster relief after tornadoes and during a drought.
30. John Thune (R-SD), Republican Conference Chair: Requested disaster relief after flooding and snow storms.
31. Pat Toomey (R-PA): Requested disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy before it even hit landfall.

Not one of the opponents has co-sponsored Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) “Extreme Weather Prevention and Resilience Act” which would encourage Congress to “prepare and protect communities from extreme weather, sea-level rise, drought, flooding, wildfire, and other changing conditions exacerbated by carbon pollution” and “reducing pollution, promoting the use of clean energy sources, and improving energy efficiency.”

ThinkProgrss previously reported that at least 37 House Republicans who opposed Sandy relief had also supported disaster aid for their home states.

Vote all these morons out in 2014, 2016, or 2018!

h/t: Josh Israel at ThinkProgress Economy

New York Republicans and Democrats are publicly furious with Speaker John Boehner for abruptly cancelling an expected vote late Tuesday night on a relief package for victims of superstorm Sandy.

The Senate recently passed an aid package for Sandy victims worth $60 billion, a price tag that made many House Republicans nervous. So they decided to divide it up into two parts: $27 billion and $33 billion. The first part was vetted by appropriators for wasteful spending but the second wasn’t. And most of the latter chunk would not have been spent in the first year, anyway. So one school of thought was to vote separately on both and let the chips fall where they may.

The likely upshot was that the House would immediately authorize $27 billion for victims and give themselves time to determine, in the next Congress, how much of the rest was necessary. A two-track vote was expected after the bill to avert the fiscal cliff. But it never happened. Why was it pulled?

Wednesday morning on the House floor, New York Republican Reps. Peter King and Michael Grimm blamed Boehner for what they described as a betrayal.

“It was entirely the speaker’s decision,” said a GOP leadership aide, who doesn’t work in Boehner’s office. “As to why we’re not voting on it now? That’s a question I can’t answer.”

At a press conference in New York, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Wednesday that he’s “distraught” and “angry” over the House’s failure to hold a vote, blaming it on a House GOP “leadership squabble.” He said Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been “truly helpful” in piecing together the package and blamed Boehner.

“Cantor has been very much for us, but Speaker Boehner … pulled the rug out from under us,” Schumer said. “It’s a Boehner betrayal.”

A Cantor aide affirmed that the majority leader has been pushing for the package.

h/t: TPM

Republicans and Democrats from New York erupted in anger late on Tuesday night after learning that the House Republican leadership decided to allow the current term of Congress to end without holding a vote on aid for victims of superstorm Sandy.

Peter King, a New York Republican, said he was told by the office of the majority leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia, that Speaker John Boehner had decided to abandon a vote this session.

House Democratic whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that just before Tuesday evening’s vote on fiscal cliff legislation, Cantor told him he was “99.9% confident that this bill would be on the floor, and that’s what he wanted”.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said: “The speaker is committed to getting this bill passed this month.”

In remarks on the House floor, King called the decision “absolutely inexcusable, absolutely indefensible. We cannot just walk away from our responsibilities.”

At least 120 people died during Sandy, which battered coastline areas from North Carolina to Maine, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit states and suffered high winds, flooding and storm surges. The storm damaged or destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey. In New York, 305,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and more than 265,000 businesses affected.

"This is an absolute disgrace and the speaker should hang his head in shame," said Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat.

"I’m here tonight saying to myself for the first time that I’m not proud of the decision my team has made," said Michael Grimm, a New York Republican.

"It is the wrong decision, and I’m going to be respectful and ask that the speaker reconsider his decision. Because it’s not about politics, it’s about human lives."

The House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi of California, said she didn’t know whether a decision has been made and added: “We cannot leave here doing nothing. That would be a disgrace.”

H/T: The Guardian

demnewswire:

“Let’s remember our social compact that government will be there when people are in need. House GOP leaders should allow #Sandy relief vote.”
x

Pelosi’s right.

demnewswire:

“Let’s remember our social compact that government will be there when people are in need. House GOP leaders should allow #Sandy relief vote.”

x

Pelosi’s right.

(via On FNC’s Your World With Neil Cavuto, Giuliani Claims Obama Response To Hurricane Sandy ‘Worse Than Katrina’)

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani isn’t exactly famous for his tact, but he kicked his penchant for overstatement into overdrive this Sunday, twice falsely claiming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) response to Hurricane Sandy was worse than its botched response to Hurricane Katrina under President George W. Bush.

Speaking at a Romney campaign office in Florida,Giuliani said “[Obama] right now is doing a terrible job of disaster relief in my city, but no one is talking about it…People don’t have water, they don’t have food, electricity and his FEMA is no where to be found. This is a worse response than Katrina.” He also levelled the charge during a Fox News appearance, telling host Neil Cavuto that the notion FEMA was doing a good job was a “joke:”

I think maybe because there’s an election going on, people don’t want to say that, but I think FEMA has dropped the ball, certainly as big they did with Katrina, maybe bigger because they had more warning here and the situation isn’t as big as Katrina.

Giuliani’s view is at odds with the assessment of virtually every other observer of the agency’s performance during the two storms. While the Bush Administration’s famously incompetent response to Katrina delayed the provision of critical federal aid by days and poorly distributed it, FEMA had 1,500 well-organized workers on the ground the day after Sandy hit, which former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security and FEMA critic Paul Rosenzweig called “a massive and admirable [sic] effort.”

Several prominent members of Giuliani’s own party share Lieberman’s assessment. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of the leaders faced with most difficult post-Sandy reconstruction,said “The federal government’s response has been great…The President has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA.” Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s Presidential campaign, said Governor Romney had no quarrel with President Obama’s handling of the situation. Gillespie added that “from what we’ve heard from the governors, they’re working well with FEMA” and that “there’s a good working relationship between the state and the federal government.”


(via Hannity Falsely Suggests FEMA Has Done Nothing To Help Sandy Victims | Video | Media Matters for America)

Shut the fuck up, Sean Hannity! I think it’s time you need a spanking from a dominatrix for your lies, HandTitty!

Chronic anti-union asshat Dana Loesch found some time to politicize Hurricane Sandy in order to bash unions.


Dana Loesch’s site that’s chock full of BS:

Despite the photos of devastation and families who’ve lost everything, union bosses still found time to play politics in the middle of a natural disaster.
This is similar to what union bosses pulled during the blizzard in New York.
I thought Chris Christie was infamous for taking on the unions? Some via Twitter have speculated that Gov. Christie may be unaware that this is happening. I’m willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt for then, but now after this story has blown up online there can be no ignorance of the matter. People need help. Sandy didn’t happen in August or early September like Katrina, Ike, and Irene. It’s November now. People are cold.

The biased-as-hell Malkin-run Twitchy::

Unions first, hurricane victims later. This blood-boiling report from Alabama’s WAFF 48 News will come as no surprise to those familiar with the Big Labor protection racket.Guess we’ll see if Obama’s “We leave nobody behind” vow has a union label sewn on it.

Excuse me, righties! The unions are NOT playing politics during the post-Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, and it’s folks like you, Twitchy, and other right-wing cuckoos that are politicizing this, NOT the unions or the left!

(cross-posted from DanaBusted.blogspot.com)

After major disasters struck the U.S. last year, Mitt Romney suggested closing FEMA, the emergency response agency, so that states could have greater control over disaster relief. “And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better,” Romney said during a GOP presidential debate in June 2011.

Those words came back to haunt him, though, as Hurricane Sandy slammed the East Coast and left at least $20 billion in damage in its wake. At first, the Romney campaign vaguelystood by Romney’s plan to get rid of FEMA and put states in charge of disaster relief. And one GOP strategist defended Romney’s idea to dismantle FEMA. But as Politico notes, the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign now insists that Romney would keep FEMA in place:

Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.

A campaign official added that Romney would not abolish FEMA.

Basically, this is exactly how the system works now. But federal emergency response could be hampered by the GOP ticket’s budget proposals, which stipulate that the government should only disburse disaster relief funding if Congress agreed to offsetting budget cuts elsewhere. 

h/t: Amanda Peterson Beadle at Think Progress