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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 29, 2012

 
Tough love for disaster victims

by digby

Ezra Klein points out that FEMA would be decimated under the sequester. Not that anybody gives a damn. All they are worried about is building ships that nobody wants. But that's not the worst of it:

Even if the sequester doesn’t take effect, federal disaster relief already faces new funding limits. Under last year’s Budget Control Act, lawmakers agreed to $917 billion in cuts over 10 years that would occur regardless of what happened with the supercommittee and the sequester. The cuts began in October 2011, and they’re happening through new spending caps on both security and non-security spending.

Congress make an exception to these new spending limits for disaster relief funding. But there’s a hard cap on any funding increase as well. According to the Congressional Research Service, disaster relief funding “cannot exceed the average funding provided for disaster relief over the 10 previous fiscal years, excluding the highest and lowest funding years. OMB estimated this figure to be $11.3 billion for the 10 years between FY2002 and FY2011.”

So even in the advent of an unprecedented disaster, Congress would have to pass new legislation to bypass these funding limits for disaster relief after a certain point. And recent natural disasters have already shown what a political mess that can be.
Hurricane Irene and the tropical storm Lee drained the Federal Emergency Management Agency of disaster relief funds. But House Republicans wanted to boost their funding only if Congress made equivalent spending cuts elsewhere, leading to a political stalemate that FEMA headed off only by rearranging its finances to get the agency through the end of the fiscal year.

This is apparently because the states are being parasites and depending too much on federal help in the event of a natural disaster.

This is a nation where billionaires are screaming because the president called them fat cats once. The wealth of the top 1% is unprecedented in human history and yet we are saying that we don't have the money to help rebuild communities destroyed by natural disasters. In fact, these communities need a little tough love to learn that they need to crawl out of the rubble and the sludge on their own.

Certainly we don't need to worry about the broken infrastructure or lost output damaging the economy. As long as the wealthy are safe, I'm sure they'll create some jobs right away to make up for all the money lost in damages and lost wages, right? And the people can always rely on charity so it's all good.

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