Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Romney To Disaster Victims: Do It Yourself


In November, 2012, at the top of the ticket, it might not matter that "tornadoes have wreaked havoc from Alabama to Massachusetts, while floods have inundated states from Montana to Louisiana." Short of a major landslide, Alabama, Montana, and Louisiana will go the GOP nominee, Massachusetts to Barack Obama.

But between those states it might matter that

the nation's deadliest tornado in six decades ripped apart the city of Joplin.

Thirty days of destruction in Missouri. Billions of dollars of damage. And it may not be done, as communities along the Missouri River from St. Joseph to St. Louis brace for a new round of flooding.

The economic aftershocks of Missouri's spring of disasters may be felt for years, even by many who weren't personally affected by the storms. Insurance premiums are likely to increase for home and vehicle owners. Restaurants and retail shops are likely to see lower sales in southeast Missouri. Utility rates are likely to rise in the southwestern part of the state. And Missouri's budget — already out of balance — now is tens of millions of dollars deeper in the hole, which could lead to more cuts to government services and schools.

"It's not just the loss of lives, but this is a horrible economic blow to the state of Missouri," said state House Speaker Steven Tilley, a Republican whose home district is near the Mississippi River.

Mitt Romney, however, doesn't agree, if this exchange he had with debate host John King at the GOP face-off on Monday in New Hampshire is indicative:

KING: What else, Governor Romney? You've been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I've been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it's the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we're learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that's even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut -- we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we're doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we're doing that we don't have to do? And those things we've got to stop doing, because we're borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we're taking in. We cannot...

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Deficit mania rages everywhere in Washington. Within the Republican Party, where it began, no deviation from this gospel is safe. Recently, Romney conceded even that climate change is affected by human behavior, a position at odds with the corporate and talk-show base of the party. The American people always sympathize, and empathize, with the victims of "acts of God"- and these victims live in the state of Missouri, site of the slimmest winning margin by eitherhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif candidate in the 2008 presidential election.

But expressing sympathy for the individuals who have lost their businesses, or homes, or communities, or even lives, to an historic flood? Not in this man's (or woman's) Republican Party, you don't.



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