At hurricane force even this White House can see which way the wind blows. So of course Washington cobbled debt-ceiling relief with disaster relief.
Every Democrat in Congress saw the needs and voted accordingly. On the majority Republican side, a mash-up of these two issues did free members loudly opposed to deficit spending to vote “yes” and then bemoan that they just had to do it for the sake of all those Hurricane Harvey victims, or at least the legal ones.
In the category of more creative hypocrisy, 90 House Republicans – every one of them a six-figure, anti-government government employee – figured they could have their purity and eat it, too. These four score and ten, including a Texas quartet, knew they could vote “no” on the debt-and-storm bill without endangering its passage.
All these folks railing against authorizing the federal government to pay already run-up bills are practicing some sort of self delusion that saves them from admitting that not raising our debt ceiling means a government shutdown and its $6 billion a week disappearing from the nation’s cash registers.
Speaking of disappearing, it seems “hypocrisy” is joining “climate change” among words disappeared under the current president. A mere four years ago, Super Storm Sandy killed 147 people in the U.S. and its neighbors. Both Texas senators and all but one of that state’s 24 House members voted against federal emergency aid. Of course those Texans are now leading a call for $100 billion and more in storm relief.
Here’s how Longhorn Sen. Ted Cruz described 2013’s $50-billion bill to NBC just a couple weeks ago: “Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.” It seems “full of crap” also went missing from the political lexicon last November. The Washington Post found Cruz earned three out of a possible four Pinocchios for his bluster. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican later made speaker of the House, also boarded the fantasy Cruz, saying money was destined for “non-Sandy expenses.”
So here’s what you explain to your red-capped uncle. Ryan cited the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. He and your uncle need to understand Sandy was storming from the Caribbean to New England, not just at the Jersey Shore. Wind and water eroded the Florida coastline enough to endanger Launch Pads 39A and B at NASA’s facility there. In D.C., gales ripped Smithsonian roofs and torrents of rain threatened national treasures, including the space shuttle Discovery. There were also complaints about the relief bill’s $100 million for Head Start, claiming it was unconnected pork. It was not. Funds went to about 100 storm-ravaged Head Start facilities in New York and New Jersey neighborhoods.
Even what little money was for non-Sandy relief went to prevention and warning agencies such as the currently director-less National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or to help in other already declared disasters such as fisheries in Mississippi and Alaska.
For this and other reasons, the news stories swirling out of Hurricane Harvey, and now Irma, beg us to bring back all those disappeared terms: hypocrisy, climate change and full of crap, for sure.
Fighting his way back from the Land of the Disappeared with a major TV interview this week is Sean Spicer, the form press secretary. Surely he now relishes telling of his late-August audience with Pope Francis, an honor his former boss denied him back in May. Spicer saw the Pope in a group of about 250. A Roman Catholic friend of mine did much better. He actually met Francis at the Vatican recently, mostly because he was toting his adorable little daughter. He even shook hands with the pontiff. Now he confesses he’s not sure what activities he can and can’t do with that hand.
Doug Kamholz of Springfield has written for the New York Times, taught media criticism, started a peace center, founded a movie theater and farmed pigs outside Divernon. The above was adapted from his 45th installment of a weekly email entitled “Wednesday Moorings with Moxie.”