Harvey prompts powerful show of GOP hypocrisy
Victims of Superstorm Sandy can be forgiven if they’re not feeling very sympathetic toward the Texas congressional delegation and its voters. After all, 23 out of 24 members of the Texas Republican delegation did their best to hold up federal relief funding for the devastation Sandy left behind in 2012.
Residents of the most-affected areas — including the north coast of New Jersey, Long Island, and New York City’s Queens and Staten Island boroughs — had to wait two and a half months for Congress to allocate money they needed for emergency relief, as well as the longer-term help with rebuilding homes, businesses and infrastructure laid waste by the storm.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz claimed he didn’t support the $50 billion federal package for Sandy’s victims because “two-thirds of the bill” was allocated for pork projects that had nothing to do with the disaster.
That claim was a flagrant lie when Cruz first uttered it in 2013, and it’s an even worse lie even as he continues to spout it post-Harvey. The Washington Post and other media outlets have since fact-checked Cruz’s assertion and found it to be unequivocably false. N.J. Gov. Chris Christie — no stranger to outrageous political gimmickry — said the real reason for Cruz’s opposition was perceived political gain. Of course it was.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recently, Christie didn’t hold his punches as he went after Cruz: “He was trying to be the most conservative, the most fiscally conservative, person in the world,” Christie said. “And what I said at the time ... is that someday it’s going to come to Texas ... a disaster is going to come to you. And when it does, I’m going to promise him that New Jersey congress people will stand up and do the right thing.”
Christie only had to wait four years for his prediction to come true. The brunt of Hurricane Harvey’s misery was visited upon Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city.
After the storm hit, Texas Republicans’ fervent hatred of federal involvement in the states flew out the window faster than Harvey’s top winds.
Recall that in the aftermaths of Katrina and Sandy, some notable Republican leaders insisted that any aid had to be offset by budgetary cuts of the same amount elsewhere. This bedrock belief led many of them to vote against the aid packages. But will they now attach the same conditions to aid for the red state with the most electoral votes? Apparently not.
As a House member from Indiana during Katrina, Vice President Mike Pence led efforts in Congress to offset expenditures on aid for victims of that storm. But he’s set no conditions for relieving Harvey’s victims.
Mick Mulvaney was a Republican House member from South Carolina when he called for offsets to spending on Sandy. He voted against the Sandy relief package because of that stance.
Now he’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. He’ll be charged with submitting the Trump administration’s emergency request for aid to Texas. And not a peep has been heard from him this time concerning offsets.
We doubt any Republican officials who’ve been caught in such bold hypocrisy relief are embarrassed. After all, their voters are tribalists who get their news from Fox. They’re not the thinking or the fairness crowd.
But Republican leaders’ abrupt about-face on offsets when the need for help is in their own political backyard speaks volumes about the insincerity of their beliefs — and their malicious intentions toward Americans who don’t live in red states that keep them in power.
It’s worth noting that Democrats have supported all such disaster relief packages, regardless of geography. Despite the ethical breaches we see on both sides of the aisle, as Harvey’s clouds receded, we were reminded that one party has been consistently a champion of the people — and the other party frankly doesn’t give a damn.
Democrats have supported all such disaster relief packages, regardless of geography.