In 2004, in the midst of hurricane season, another Republican Congressman from Texas, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, introduced an amendment designed to offset emergency disaster relief with spending cuts. Eric Cantor, the Republican House Majority Leader, emphatically voted against the amendment. As fate would have it, that very year, Mr. Cantor’s district of Richmond Va. was the victim of a tropical storm Gaston.
But that was 2004, and although Cantor found it necessary to kill that amendment then, he is now calling for spending cuts to offset the victims of hurricane Irene. Why the flip-flop? Cantor’s spokesperson Brad Dayspring explains;
“[T]he national debt at the time was under $8 trillion and was $8.67 trillion when Nancy Pelosi became Speaker, Today the debt stands at $14.625, meaning that while Democrats controlled the purse string, the national debt literally exploded. We are living in different times. Majority Leader Cantor, Whip [Kevin] McCarthy and Chairman [Paul] Ryan wrote an entire book last year about how the previous Republican majority lost its way, particularly on spending issues. That was one of the major reasons the Republican majority became the Republican minority from 2006-2010. House Republicans then ran, and won, an election pledging to be responsible stewards of federal tax dollars.
People and families affected by these disasters will certainly get what they need from their federal government. The goal should always be to find ways to pay for what is needed or to find offsets whenever possible, that is the responsible thing to do. Is the suggestion that Congress should completely ignore the $14 trillion debt and make no effort to try to pay for things? That seems quite extreme. People also expect their government to spend their dollars wisely, and to make efforts to prioritize and save when possible. They aren’t and shouldn’t be considered mutually exclusive concepts.”
In 2004, an $8 trillion debt was unheard of. If Cantor was so concerned about spending and the debt then, it would seem the obvious thing to do would be to vote for Jeb Hensarling’s amendment and try to bring the debt under control. Hurricanes and other natural disasters were the same then, people affected by these events felt the same need for help then as they do now and the moral thing to do, as it was then, would be for the government to help its citizens. So this argument Cantor’s spokesperson is making is filled with holes.
The only difference now is the political party in control, and the Republican’s colossal effort to make this administration a total failure.
While the people of the hurricane affected states suffer, Cantor and the Republicans are satisfied with playing politics. As usual!