With urgently needed relief for the victims of Superstorm Sandy ignored for over two months by the Rethug led 112th House of Representatives , the 113th sworn in this week managed to pass just $9.7 billion of the $60 billion the Democrat led Senate had already approved, with 67 Rethugs voting no.
In contrast, $62 billion worth of relief for Hurricane Katrina was signed into law within 4 days from the time it first made landfall. Even so, it took a firestorm of protest from such conservative stalwarts as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rep. Steve King (R-NY) to force a vote. King went so far as to threaten switching parties if Speaker John Boehner didn’t immediately put it on the floor. Da Boner has promised to schedule a supplemental authorization by Jan 15.
So, what’s been the holdup? A combination of resistance from the likes of David Koch‘s American For Progress, who object to the whole notion of the social compact and the costs of being our brother’s keeper when the need arises; and a hypocritical regional, red state prejudice against the liberal Northeast. Lee Fang from The Nation explains the Koch connection:
Billionaire David Koch’s prime political organization, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), having failed in its $125 million quest to oust President Barack Obama, is now aiming at a slightly less sophisticated political target: victims of Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy was the second most costly in American history, leaving 100 lives lost, over $50 billion in devastation and tens of thousands of damaged or destroyed homes. Legislative efforts to help those who survived Hurricane Sandy’s wrath will reach a major stumbling block.
Earlier this week, AFP, which is chaired by Koch and believed to be financed by several other plutocrats from the New York City region, released a letter warning members of Congress not to vote for the proposed federal aid package for victims of the storm that swept New Jersey, New York City and much of the surrounding area in October. An announcement on the group’s website says that the vote next week for the Sandy aid package will be a “key vote”—meaning senators who support sending money for reconstruction could face an avalanche of attack ads in their next election. Already, opposition to the bill is growing, although it passed one procedural hurdle last night. There is some legitimate criticism with aspects of the legislation, including the fact that some of the money will go to non-Sandy related reconstruction efforts in disaster areas.
For AFP, however, the whole bill must die and victims of the storm deserve no help from the government. Koch’s top deputy in New Jersey, a surly gentleman named Steve Lonegan, who heads the local AFP state chapter, called the aid package a “disgrace.” “This is not a federal government responsibility,” Lonegan told reporters. “We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.”
Easy to say when the guy who signs your paycheck is worth over $30 billion. Crooks and Liars addresses the redneck issue:
Rep. Rush Holt came to the floor and said what many are thinking: They dropped the ball because the disaster happened in a blue state. He’s not the only one to think so:
Jamil Smith@JamilSmith Wonder if the House would adjourn without even voting on Hurricane #Sandy relief if it had hit red states the hardest. Having my doubts.
This could possibly be the most despicable non-act of Congress ever. Howie Klein has more on one of the tea party idiots in New Jersey who is probably dancing a jig right now:
Among the Koch whores in the House GOP threatening to disrupt the aid are right-wing hacks in New York (like Staten Island’s corrupt Mafia-related Michael “Mikey Suits” Grimm) and New Jersey’s worst extremist ideologue Scott Garrett. Long Island Congressman Peter King, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, which has been handling the bill, is worried that if the money doesn’t get approved while he’s still chair, Texas hate-monger Michael McCaul— the richest member of the House and an anti-tax fanatic— will kill it. Many Republicans still fighting the Civil War look at this as an opportunity to deal a painful blow to the hated Northerners.
Which would be a fitting postscript to the movie Lincoln. And tying the two objections together, Fang continues:
It seems particularly cruel that the Koch political machine would use its vast network of paid activists and professional operatives to kill this bill. For one thing, this is David Koch’s community. From his Upper East Side apartment, Koch lives only a subway ride away from the devastation in Red Hook. Notably, Koch’s group gave away free gasoline during the election in a wide-scale anti-Obama stunt, yet had nothing to give to the victims of the storm. Now, Koch, one of the richest men in the world, is actually trying to take something away from them.
The other tragedy of Koch’s decision to target Sandy aid is that his company is one reason we will increasingly face extreme weather events like hurricanes, flash floods, droughts and fierce storms. The Koch brothers, David and Charles, sit atop one of the world’s largest privately held conglomerates. Koch Industries is a sprawling company with interests in commodity speculation, timber, oil refining, ethanol production, chemicals, pipelines, consumer products, and fertilizer, among others. The Koch empire, by one estimate, has an annual carbon footprint of 100 million tons. Not only does Koch’s business contribute to climate change through massive carbon emissions, as Greenpeace reported, Koch is the largest financier of climate denial political organizations and media groups. (As an aside, unlike AFP, Greenpeace ignored partisan politics and sent many of its workers to Queens to assist with relief efforts.)
And lest we forget, during the primary debates Willard called for the elimination and privitization of FEMA:
In sum, Willard argues it’s immoral to saddle our children with the bill for restoring the infrastructure that they will have to depend on. Better to leave them with this.