“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Rahm Emanuel said when he was chief of staff for President Obama’s first term.
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The Senate Democrats took that to heart when they shoveled a $61 billion storm aid bill for the victims of what’s now being called “Superstorm Sandy.”
For a superstorm the Senators naturally have to have a super expensive act of Congress.
According to University of Southern California finance and business economics professor Larry Harris there are 100,000 people left homeless by the storm. Divide those 100,000 homeless into $61 billion and the result is $610,000 per person. We should all be so lucky as to have the government buy us each a $610,000 house.
Of course, it is not that simple. The $61 billion relief bill includes $100 million for the federal Head Start day care program, $17 billion in Community Development Block Grants to assist low-income families, $2 million for roof repairs at Smithsonian museums in Washington, and $336 million for Amtrak, which is 10 times what the president requested. Amtrak already got a federal subsidy of $1.4 billion in 2012. Some of its tracks were damaged in the storm, but doesn’t the corporation have insurance?
Hey, $61 billion is a lot of moolah. As noted by Wall street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger, “The Agriculture Department’s entire annual budget was $20 billion last year. For Justice, Commerce and Science it was $53 billion and for the State Department, $43.5 billion. Sandy’s $60 billion is bigger than an entire federal department.”
Some additional “storm relief” includes money for fisheries that suffered damages in Alaska and repairing federal installations like the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The bill includes $2 billion for “future disasters.”
“All this would be bad enough any time. It is worse now, with the federal government likely facing its fifth consecutive trillion-dollar deficit in fiscal year 2013, and publicly held debt exceeding three-fourths of the economy’s total resources. Debt held by the public is on course to be twice the size of the economy in 25 years,” wrote Patrick Louis Knudsen of the Heritage Foundation.
Knudsen also noted that the Senate Appropriations Committee used a disaster loophole to spend above the $1.047 trillion discretionary spending cap for fiscal year 2013 that began October 2012.
So, Republican Gov. Chris Christie is slamming House Speaker John Boehner because he only passed the $9.7 billion flood insurance claim bill. Is the governor upset that the House isn’t sending money to Gitmo or Alaska? Or is he upset about Head Start not getting extra money?
The Senate just keeps on shoveling money, burying us all in Greek-like debt. That’s the real disaster.