Big storm, big politicking
I’m staying at a local hotel, not feeling well, and not sure if I can find a place with heat/electricity later today.
Shelter situation solved for the tonight, thank goodness.
All over the media there’s a big push to show Obama as some kind of savior, saying “we leave nobody behind” and forgetting Benghazi, where four were left behind. The NYTimes pushes the idea that “A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” and Taranto takes them to task,
The title was “A Big Storm Requires Big Government,” and here’s the nut: “Disaster coordination is one of the most vital functions of ‘big government,’ which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it.” That’s a straw man, as the Times itself admits at the end of the editorial by linking to a Politico story reporting “Romney would not abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Politico quotes a Romney spokesman as saying. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”
It’s not clear if the Times disagrees with Romney’s actual position, which more or less describes the status quo. If you spent hours yesterday watching local TV news in New York, as we did, you saw a lot of Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and you heard a lot about state and local policemen, firemen and other emergency personnel. The federal government’s role was largely invisible.
The Times is also aghast that supposedly “Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job.” For our part, we’d like to thank Con Edison for the uninterrupted electricity.
Let’s stipulate that FEMA is a vitally important agency, a point on which there seems to be no serious disagreement anyway. How exactly does that make the case for “big government”? FEMA’s annual budget is $14.3 billion, according to lefty Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. That’s approximately 1/272nd of total federal spending, estimated at $3,888.4 billion by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
To be sure, there are other crucial government functions, such as defense, that cost more than FEMA does. But the Times has it utterly backward in suggesting that necessary government justifies extravagant government–that FEMA’s work somehow redeems everything from ObamaCare to Solyndra to Big Bird. (Speaking of which, further to the Times’s contempt for profit-making companies, yesterday afternoon all of New York’s commercial TV stations pre-empted their regular programming for news of the approaching storm. PBS’s Channel 13 was showing a cartoon.)
Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Washington demobilizes for the storm.
Making our point symbolically, Government Executive reports that most of the federal government responded to the storm by shutting down: “Washington-area federal agencies will remain closed Tuesday as Hurricane Sandy continues to unleash its wrath up and down the East Coast. . . . Emergency employees are required to report to work. Everyone else affected will be granted excused absence.”
And here’s President Obama, speaking yesterday afternoon at FEMA headquarters: “My message to the governors, as well as to the mayors, is anything they need, we will be there. And we’re going to cut through red tape. We’re not going to get bogged down with a lot of rules.”
Even the most leftist president in American history is suddenly touting deregulation. Of course, he’s faced with responsibility to act in an emergency, not to mention a tough re-election challenge. The only real-world pressures on the Times editorialists were a deadline and an empty page. Still, you’d think a modicum of professional pride would stop them from filling it with such nonsense.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to post again.