Obama seeks $60 billion in aid for Superstorm Sandy devastation

superstorm damage

President Barack Obama’s proposal for $60.4 billion in federal aid for states hit by Superstorm Sandy adds a huge new item to an end-of-year congressional agenda already packed with controversy.

The president’s request to Congress on Friday followed weeks of discussions with lawmakers and officials from New York, New Jersey and other affected states who requested significantly more money, but generally praised the president’s request as they urged Congress to adopt it without delay…

Pushing the request through Congress in the few weeks left before lawmakers adjourn at the end of the year will be no easy task. Washington’s attention is focused on the looming fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and automatic spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs set to begin at the end of the year. And tea party House Republicans are likely to press for budget cuts elsewhere to offset some or even all disaster costs…

It’s only been a century or so since our government concluded nationwide taxation is required for a whole nation to function safely and appropriately in time of disaster or war. How far back into the bowels of self-deceit will the Kool Aid Party crawl?

The massive request blends aid for homeowners, businesses, and state and local governments walloped by Sandy, a disaster whose cost is rivaled only by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005.

The aid will help states rebuild public infrastructure like roads and tunnels and help thousands of people displaced from their homes. Most of the money — $47.4 billion — is for immediate help for victims and other recovery and rebuilding efforts. Another $13 billion would be used for mitigation efforts to protect against future storms…

Obama’s request was met with praise from two governors who had traveled to Washington last week to press for as much help as possible: New York’s Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Chris Christie. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut together are seeking about $83 billion in aid.

As is traditional in natural disasters, the request was not accompanied by offsetting spending cuts to defray its cost…

Tradition means little or nothing to demagogues stuck into the presumption that disaster, death and despair is good for the soul. Still, in the history of modern nations, educated, with developed infrastructures, the economic and social benefit of coming to the aid of those whose lives and livelihood has been destroyed by natural disaster is considered to be in the national interest.

One can only hope that piss-ant beancounters who resist government being anything other than a manager of wars and a dispenser of subsidies to corporate managers – represent districts where citizens remember such behavior. Especially at election time.

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