Paul Ryan's budget plan, released Monday, reneged on the bipartisan disaster relief funding deal achieved last summer to fully fund disaster relief according to a 10 year rolling average. Ryan's plan allows no scope for additional spending in case of natural disasters — floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes — and once again requires disaster relief funding to be offset by cuts elsewhere.
In other words, it turns disaster funding into a political football just like it was last summer.
The result of rolling back that deal is that future efforts to fund disaster relief will likely be heavily politicized, as they were in the wake of multiple disasters in 2011. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) took disaster relief funds hostage when he repeatedly declared that the House wouldn’t fund it without spending offsets. The GOP then attempted to cut spending from programs they opposed to pay for disaster relief, then nearly forced a government shutdown over the funds before buying off conservative members with additional spending cuts.
There is no 'right' time to play politics with disaster relief, but this is a bone-headed move, even for Ryan.
Recently the Weather Channel announced tornado rankings: Alabama is number 9 …. and that's without last year. They expect we'll move up a notch or two when 2011 is included in the ranking. There were also the wildfires that devastated Texas, flooding in the midwest, earthquakes in unusual places and a major hurricane on the east coast. In fact, 2011 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters.
Under Ryan's plan, more spending for natural disasters would force offsetting cuts to spending for Pell grants, renewable energy, infrastructure, promoting international trade, supplemental nutrition assistance, and other programs Republicans just don't like.
Paul Ryan and his GOP friends are headed down the Pat Robertson road on disasters — pray more and don't live in disaster prone areas. Of course, if we shouldn't live where tornadoes and hurricanes and earthquakes and floods and blizzards and wildfires might happen … that pretty much rules out living anywhere on this world at all.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers told POLITICO that he now feels free to “ignore” these [disaster funding] demands … “You can’t fix it. It’s already in the report,” the Kentucky Republican told POLITICO. “But when the time comes for a bill to include disaster designated [funding], I will ignore that provision with the leadership’s understanding – and Paul Ryan’s.”
The Ryan Budget Plan is a disaster in more ways than just disaster funding, but it's nice to see at least some Republicans beginning to walk away from his extreme ideas. I'm a person with enough faith to choose to live in a tornado prone state, but that gives me renewed hope for the future … where two sane political parties are needed to avert disaster.