Offsets and Disaster Relief
As we start to assess the devastation in Oklahoma, we will have to figure out much the reconstruction is going to cost. Indeed, the aftermath of such natural disasters underscore one of the great benefits of modern government: the ability to have the infrastructure in place to provide rapid response to the immediate disaster and to have the the capacity to deal with the aftermath on a mass scale. Of course, these types of events require remarkable amounts of money, which raises the question of how to pay for the response.
Now, in this era of heightened concerns over budget deficits, paying for relief becomes a political matter (as we saw with Hurricane Sandy relief funds).
Along these lines, Roll Call‘s WGDB blog notes: Coburn Wants Tornado Disaster Aid to Be Offset
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., says he will insist that any federal disaster aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere.
CQ Roll Call reporter Jennifer Scholtes wrote for CQ.com Monday evening that Coburn said he would “absolutely” demand offsets for any federal aid that Congress provides.
On the one hand, Coburn is a deficit-hawk and he is being consist, even in the face of devastation in his state. On the other, this makes me think of the Emerson quote: ” A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”
Like with Sandy relief, it strikes me that if there was ever a time for Congress to authorize spending and not allow it to get caught up in deficit politics, it is at a moment of national tragedy. It is one of the fundamental functions of government (general welfare, and all that).
(Just a passing observation—no time for a more fully developed post).