You may recall that when tornadoes struck Arkansas last year, GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA) suggested this "quid pro quo" exchange before emergency disaster funds be provided to the victims. When Hurricane Sandy ripped through Virginia, New Jersey and New York, Mr. Cantor suddenly got quiet about his demands that money be offset before being provided to disaster victims. Was it brought back up for discussion when West, Texas fell victim to the local fertilizer plant explosion? Nah, that might inflame Tea Party Texas Governor Rick Perry, who wasted no time requesting Federal Emergency Disaster relief. So did this political attitude ever go away? Nope, Senator Tom Coburn from OKLAHOMA has now demanded that any money set aside for Federal Emergency Disaster Relief be first set off against other Federal spending. From Oklahoma? Really? Give Coburn credit, he sure is being consistent in his beliefs, but how do the folks of Oklahoma feel about Coburn's principled sentiment that no Federal money become available unless cut from somewhere else in the Federal budget?
In the event fellow members of his Conference in the Senate agree with his position, perhaps Coburn should find easy sources for "set-off" so that emergency relief can be given. One area that can provide an easy target to free money for Oklahoma relief would be to reduce the number of Abrams A-1 tanks some in Congress demand we need (regardless of the fact the Pentagon says they are neither needed nor wanted by the Military). What does a single Abram A-1 Tank cost? $8 Million each! Would Senator Coburn be willing to swap the cost of a handful of tanks in order to provide needed relief to fellow Oklahomans? If not, why not? Does Coburn also believe that all the costs associated with FEMA should also be "set off" against other expenses in the Federal Budget?
With the country experiencing a spate of "historic" natural disasters, where do Coburn and Cantor stand on Climate Change? We know the frequency and severity of warming affects Hurricanes. And although Climate Change may not directly affect the severity of tornadoes, they do impact their non-traditional frequency and locations which do follow the patterns previously outlined by climate scientists. Would it not make some sense to begin to take Climate Change more seriously in Washington? How many natural disasters will we have to sustain for our leaders in Washington to accept the fact that climate related disasters will continue to wreak havoc across the Nation and the costs associated with them will continue to dramatically increase? If the effort is to save money, perhaps Coburn, Cantor and others should invest in ways to better predict such weather events and towards measures to reduce their severity. As President John F. Kennedy once said, "Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."