If You Want To Offset Disaster Aid Start With Senator Coburn’s Pay

offical image of US Senator Tom Coburn (R-Heartless)
US Senator Tom Coburn (R-Heartless)

A massive tornado flattens a large part of Moore Oklahoma on Monday. Whole neighborhoods and businesses are turned into piles of scrap wood and metal. It is times like these that a government springs into action. Providing aid quickly is one way to keep the peace and to spark rebuilding. Unfortunately some Republicans in Congress have a large stick up their ass when it comes to disaster aid. They are so worried about the budget that they demand that disaster aid be offset. That means to help people in need funds must come from other parts of the budget which usually means away from other people in need. I think if you want to offset disaster aid start with Senator Coburn’s pay.

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Requiring Relief Aid Be Offset With Spending Cuts Is Typical Republican Heartless Stupidity

Aerial view of Hurricane Sandy damage along New Jersey coastHurricane Sandy damage along New Jersey coast

Another natural disaster and another opportunity for the Republicans in Congress to be dicks about approving federal disaster aid. It happened with the tornado in Joplin Missouri and the recent Hurricane Sandy on the east coast. Republicans say that any disaster aid has to be offset by spending cuts. Not only is the demand hurtful to those who depend on the target of the cuts, the social safety net, but the GOP demand is stupidly irrational. Federal disaster aid comes back as increased tax revenue from spending by restored businesses and residential restoration work.

We’ve had several major natural disasters in the past few years like the tornado that hit Joplin Missouri in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy that hit the east coast in October. Each time Federal disaster relief funds were requested in Congress and each time some Republicans said they would only approve the relief aid if the money was offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

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FEMA wants to require IDs for volunteers

Picture this scene.

A major bridge collapses with dozens of cars and their occupants trapped. A school bus, with about 50 children and adults is sitting next to a truck that has burst into flames. Several people who see the disaster run to the scene but have to wait for trained the rescue and fire personnel to arrive to save the kids.

Or how about this scene.

Flash flooding hits a city. As the water rises, trapping and endangering dozens of people, Joe Smoe who lives down the street and has a boat uses it to save himself but is not allowed to help the others. They have to wait until trained rescue workers can arrive.

Not possible? Could be if the federal government gets it way.

In an effort to provide better control and coordination, the federal government is launching an ambitious ID program for rescue workers to keep everyday people from swarming to a disaster scene.

Proponents say the system will get professionals on scene quicker and keep untrained volunteers from making tough work more difficult.

“Everybody wants to come to the fight, so to speak, and no one wants to step back and say ‘No, I can’t do this.’ The final coup de grace was the World Trade Center. Hundreds came that were never asked,” deputy assistant U.S. Fire Administrator Charlie Dickinson said. “Good intentions, good hearts, and it was extremely difficult for the fire department and the other departments to deal with them.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency came up with the idea after the World Trade Center attack and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when countless Americans rushed to help – unasked, undirected, and sometimes unwanted.

Feds to Restrict Volunteers at Disasters

Yes. FEMA wants to restrict volunteer help during disasters. Kind of ironic isn’t it. One the volunteers thinks so too.

Similar frustrations arose after Katrina, when people were shocked that the government struggled to take basic supplies such as water to the worst areas.

“They’re more worried about keeping volunteers out than doing an analysis of what really went wrong,” said Ground zero volunteer Rhonda Shearer. “Independent citizens need to be involved, where we have no ax to grind or cross to bear. But we will tell the truth, and we will tell what we see and bear witness to the incompetence.”

In many times of distress, it is the untrained volunteer that is first to arrive and first to act and who saves people or makes their lives a bit better while the government lumbers into action. Any idea about controlling volunteers smells like a cover up and lack of accountability.