Political Animal


May 24, 2011 12:40 PM Cantor demands spending-cut ransom for Missouri aid

By Steve Benen

The scenes out of Joplin, Missouri, are just horrific. The death toll from the deadliest single U.S. twister in generations stands at least 116 people, and rescue workers continue a frantic search for survivors. President Obama will be in the area over the weekend, and obviously the area qualifies for federal disaster relief.

It’s hard to believe, but House Republicans aren’t sure if they’re prepared to spend the money to assist the victims and community.

The No. 2 House Republican said that if Congress doles out additional money to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters across the country, the spending may need to be offset.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said “if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.”

Finding ways to offset disaster relief funds could be a significant challenge for House Republicans and would put their promise to cut spending to a true test.

I don’t expect much from House Republicans, but this has managed to actually surprise me. When disaster strikes and there are deadly consequences, federal officials are expected to put aside politics and ideology, and commit whatever’s necessary to help.

Indeed, the far-right Washington Times noted* today that Tom DeLay, when he was the House Majority Leader, believed emergency disaster relief should be immediate, without regard for offsetting cuts. “It is right to borrow to pay for it,” DeLay said at the time, adding that cuts could undermine the economy.

Congratulations, Eric Cantor. You’ve made Tom DeLay look like a moderate, and created an environment in which Democrats wish he were back as Majority Leader.

What’s more, Travis Waldron also noted that, despite the recent tornado disasters, Republicans are also trying to gut tornado forecasting services.

* In context, the Washington Times was making the point that DeLay was wrong and Cantor is right. It’s an admittedly right-wing newspaper. Still, the contrast with Cantor and DeLay is important.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on May 24, 2011 12:47 PM:

    These guy's are going all-in to their own meme - the one where they're the unsympathetic realists out to tell mankind the truth.

    When you make Tom DeLay look Liberal, it's time to put down the Kool Aid, an reassess your priorities.

    Also, too, Cantor is one of the really really really really dumb people who think that the really really really dumb Ryan is an intellectual beacon.

    But if this was VA, this braying jackass'd be screaming and shrieking for money, and telling everyone it was all Obama's fault and that he's moving too slowly.

  • Ron Byers on May 24, 2011 12:48 PM:

    We have to publicize Eric's demand in Missouri and surrounding states. That will play well all over the middle west.

    Cantor is a dick.

  • flyonthewall on May 24, 2011 12:50 PM:

    And the Dems should say, sure we'll cut something but it must be something that will go to that state. As Rep Woodall advised, they should just move to either another state or country.

  • Dylan on May 24, 2011 12:50 PM:

    Why are you surprised by this reaction? This is the same group of people who wanted to deny a health care bill for first responders.

  • AK Liberal on May 24, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Last I heard, Missouri was a deep shade of purple. Nice of Cantor to endear the Grand Old Party to the electorate there.

  • Roger the Cabin Boy on May 24, 2011 12:52 PM:

    Funny, I don't remember these clowns looking for "offsets" when they were voting on supplementals to pay for Mr. Cheney's excellent war in Iraq.

  • ManOutOfTime on May 24, 2011 12:56 PM:

    Of course! I am surprised to hear that DeLay went off the reservation: it is always a winner for the GOP to undermine the US Govt, especially in disasters operations. The "independent" voter thinks Congress = Government = Democrat. So when it comes time to "throw the bums out," they always make the case, with better than .500 results, that the "bums" are the Democrats. Everyone knows this in The Village but it is impolite because it implies that "independent" voters are uninformed (when we all know they are the smartest, most virtuous citizens there are) and that Repugs are charlatans.

  • martin on May 24, 2011 12:58 PM:

    Yeah, it should be just like all those supplementals Bush asked for and got to fund his wars.

  • Barbara on May 24, 2011 1:07 PM:

    Cantor is insane. Talk to any local politician and they will tell you that the one thing people expect to be apolitical is disaster response. That's why so many were so prepared to punish Republicans after Hurricane Katrina. What occurs to me, however, is that disasters on the scale of Joplin and Tuscaloosa require the injection of real money into the system -- the kind that actually might have some impact on the larger economy. I wonder if what Cantor is really worried about is whether responding to disasters of this magnitude could stimulate the economy, and that would be the only kind of disaster he cares about, that is, a possible political disaster for Republicans in 2012. God, I loathe Cantor.

  • Ron Byers on May 24, 2011 1:09 PM:

    I have an idea, why don't we shut down one of Bush's wars and use some of the money for disaster assistance?

  • Josef K on May 24, 2011 1:10 PM:

    Anyone heard the Democrat's or White House's reaction to this yet?

  • James at Home in Missouri on May 24, 2011 1:12 PM:

    I would say that I believe the expenditures can be offset with cuts to republicans congressional salaries. I guess that we could also make them pay for a part of their health insurances also and let that portion go to the disaster relief.

    I think they should be quite pleased with this compromise.

  • jjm on May 24, 2011 1:16 PM:

    Unbelievably heartless, callous statement. What if it had occurred in his own state of Virginia?

    The mania for cutting that came upon Republicans is so far out of whack with their mania for spending under Bush that it literally boggles the mind.

    But it also shows that the Republicans are terrorists, seeking hostages wherever they can to block, impede and try to ruin not only Obama's presidency but the very United States of America they are supposedly sworn to represent and defend.

    And I agree with James at Home in Missouri above. Cut Republicans' salaries and benefits and give it directly to the victims in Missouri.

  • SYSPROG on May 24, 2011 1:18 PM:

    Honest to God...is THIS the country the Republicans want to live in? REALLY? We pay taxes just for THIS. We take care of our people. We do NOT just give you money Eric, to give away to your 'friends'. FU you selfish putz!

  • mellowjohn on May 24, 2011 1:19 PM:

    how about no federal spending in eric cantor's district until missouri is put back together?

  • Ian A on May 24, 2011 1:19 PM:

    I'm definitely for "pay fors". But in my opinion, this is another way to say "progressive taxation for the greater good."

    I have to admit, as a person living in MO, that one of my first thoughts after hearing about Joplin was, "those ****, they vote Repug, but they'll want assistance. Where the *** do they think that money comes from?" And, of course, they *deserve* assistance for this terrible disaster. It's just a shame that it won't come from the top 1%.

    I do hope this might turn a few people more blue in their voting habits.

  • pi**ed off liberal on May 24, 2011 1:29 PM:

    jjm said:

    "The mania for cutting that came upon Republicans is so far out of whack with their mania for spending under Bush that it literally boggles the mind."

    No no, you've forgotten, it's all part of Starve The Beast, a deliberate strategy started under Dear Leader Ronnie Raygun designed to de-fund popular government programs that can't be attacked directly. Spend us into a hole, declare an emergency, demand cuts. Always cut the popular programs. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    See also: Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

  • Vokoban on May 24, 2011 1:31 PM:

    Decency has left the GOP a long time ago. And it's unlikely to return.

  • Gretchen on May 24, 2011 1:35 PM:

    Mellowjohn - good idea - no money for Cantor's district so Joplin can be made whole.

  • DRF on May 24, 2011 1:38 PM:

    I don't suppose Joplin's congressman, Billy Long, will be inviting Cantor to campaign for him next year.

    I don't see Cantor's comment as being "political" in the negative sense; after all, Joplin is a heavily Republican district. Whether you agree or disagree, it's not unreasonable to propose that emergency spending be offset elsewhere. However, it's just politically stupid to make this comment, particularly right after a disaster. What, exactly, is the upside to Cantor saying this? It's not going to result in any specific budget cut, and there's an ongoing debate about the overall budget which completely subsumes this particular issue. All Cantor has done is expose himself to ridicule. Just stupid.

  • meady on May 24, 2011 1:40 PM:

    OK, so Claire McCaskills seat is now safe...

  • neil b on May 24, 2011 1:57 PM:

    Can't-whore is one of my State's major embarrassments, now taking over it seems from AG Kookynellie.

  • zeitgeist on May 24, 2011 2:01 PM:

    soon, they will be caricatures of themselves.

    "I'll vote for emergency aid for Joplin. . . in exchange for a spending cut."

    "I'll vote to keep Walter Reed open rather than kicking out wounded vets. . . in exchange for a spending cut."

    "I'll let Bo, the White House dog, go unharmed. . . in exchange for a spending cut."

    "Here, Ma'am, your hands are full, let me hold that door for you. . . in exchange for a spending cut."

    "Oh my God, he'd had a heart attack, someone call 911. . . as soon as he agrees to a spending cut!"

  • John B. on May 24, 2011 2:13 PM:

    Why the asterisked "in all fairness" footnote? And why the hyperlink to that garbage propaganda machine???? Everyone knows the lunatic moonie, Sun Myung Moon, owns it as a personal playpen for his fascist sentiments. The footnote was completely unnecessary. The hyperlink was unforgivable.

  • toowearyforoutrage on May 24, 2011 2:21 PM:

    I appreciate the consistency.

    How bout they trot out one of the corporate tax loopholes they'd like to do away with.

    I'd be fine with that.

    In the event they are chicken S and don't mean a word of what they say, help those Missouri folk and let the purple go Blue.

  • republicant on May 24, 2011 2:23 PM:

    Can't let this slide. There's fiscal responsibility and there's stupidity. This is pure and utter stupidity.

  • MsJoanne on May 24, 2011 2:40 PM:

    Ok, cut all oil subsidies. Done.

  • Schtick on May 24, 2011 3:17 PM:

    I have to agree with the other posters here, remove tax cuts for the rich and big corporations, remove the tax loopholes for the rich and big corporations, end the wars, end all subsidies to the rich oil companies and corporations, and make an example by taking cuts the rest of the country has to, a cut in pay and benefits. Then I remember, this is the party that did their best to ignore the gulf coast after Katrina and mades jokes about funding for volcanos, hurricanes and tornados being useless and wanted to piss on the first responders.

  • TCinLA on May 24, 2011 3:30 PM:

    I have to think that even Southerners, for whom voting against their own best interests is a 300-year old tradition, would "get it" with the right ads next year about their Republican congressman refusing to get them the federal aid they needed after these disasters.

    How completely nuts can these guys get? Cantor is sure pulling his weight in disproving the ancient anti-Semitic smear that all Jews are really intelligent.

  • JW on May 24, 2011 3:36 PM:

    "Anyone heard the Democrat's or White House's reaction to this yet"?

    That would require them to stand upright and speak on behalf of the voters that elect them. Not act, mind you, just speak. They don't have it in them. You can bet that even now the administration is constructing a soft-soap response stressing America the Beautiful, rather than shooting the fat fish in the tiny barrel. If you think otherwise, tell me: then what's taking them so long?

  • sherifffruitfly on May 24, 2011 3:41 PM:

    "this has managed to actually surprise me."

    Then this is a learning opportunity for you.

    Never, EVER think they've gone as low as they can go. They will prove you wrong.

  • dsimon on May 24, 2011 3:45 PM:

    Close the "carried interest" loophole, which even those in the financial industry can't justify.

    That was easy. Of course, I doubt Cantor would even consider it.

  • John on May 24, 2011 3:46 PM:

    House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said �if there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.�

    What an absolute bastard. What's next, telling the victims in Joplin that they're going to have to pay a 20% surtax on all the disaster relief equipment and supplies?

    I agree with the other posters here that any "offsets" ought to come out of these troglodyte's salaries. Or maybe ending one, or both of Bush's wars of choice? Or maybe passing a law forcing GE to pay all of the back taxes it owes? Just ending one or two of the boondoggles down the street at the Pentagon ought to bring in plenty of money.

    Just when I think these hideous people can't go any lower, they find a way.

  • Joan on May 24, 2011 4:18 PM:

    Cantor is a creep, I have a suggestion - since all the hullabaloo about earmarks, and the fact they have sworn to take no earmarks, republicans have decided to keep getting earmarks and at present they have requests in for a lot of them. How can they do it?
    They have changed the name to 'member requests'

  • BertW on May 24, 2011 4:26 PM:

    For those asking about a Democratic response--including JW--the president quickly offered an open-ended promise of federal aid to the storm-ravaged regions.

    No mention was made of how it will be paid for, but I noticed a number of excellent suggestions above.

  • max on May 24, 2011 4:43 PM:

    If Eric Cantor needs more shovels to continue digging the GOP's grave I have several in my garage. This dimwit has alienated young working women, the uninsured, young people in college, anyone in a union, public employees, first responders, the AARP, minorities, small investors, the unemployed, and now storm victims in a crucial battleground state. Could the GOP find a bigger idiot in Congress to go out in public and stand behind a bank of microphones? The modern GOP is pure scum.

  • JW on May 24, 2011 5:56 PM:

    Bert W-- An pledge of "open ended aide" by the president is boilerplate. What I referred to was a direct, open ended attack on the meanness of Cantor's remarks.

    That Obama's White House lacks the guts and common decency to launch a bare knuckled attack on even so venal a utterance kinda sums up the democratic party across the board.

  • Walt on May 24, 2011 8:30 PM:

    For a man who claims to be an American, Cantor, should be arrested for treason!

  • Doug on May 24, 2011 9:03 PM:

    JW, why don't we wait and see if the idiot from Virginia actually tries to do what he said?
    If the WH calls Can'tor (NOT a mis-spelling) heartless and cruel and worse than dog vomit and emergency funds ARE provided, just how do you think the MSM will report THAT? Now, imagine how the MSM will HAVE to report the WH's remarks if disaster funds AREN'T forthcoming. Hint: in the first instance it's President Obama "politicizing" disaster relief, in the second it's the nut-job from Virginia.
    As it is now, "boilerplate" or not, the WH is on record as supporting disaster relief, while the Republican second-in-command in the House isn't. I don't think anyone needs to be told by the President, or anyone else, what those remarks say about the person who made them; they already know. What only matters is how many agree with the WH and how many agree with said speaker.
    I also think a certain nut-job from Virginia may be in for a really, really big surprise...

  • JW on May 24, 2011 10:57 PM:

    "JW, why don't we wait and see if the idiot from Virginia actually tries to do what he said?".

    I will admit, that's a splendid idea. I didn't consider that scenario.

    But I didn't consider it for good reason. Even (if-and-when Cantor and) the GOP folds, I don't believe this administration possesses the chops to go for their throats. Immediately, I mean-- not waiting until the president's re-election 2012 campaign is in full swing, and when it will benefit him, rather than represent the revulsion of those who elected him to the presidency.

  • bjobotts on May 25, 2011 1:01 AM:

    Are you Paying attention Sen. McCaskill. Let this be a lesson to you as this is exactly what would happen if you put a limit on spending tied to the raising debt ceiling.
    Even if there were money in the treasury to cover it we would have to cut spending elsewhere for such a disaster.

    This is too ironic...it happened in your own backyard so you could see plainly how disastrous your Plan will be. Just ask Cantor for a 2/3rds majority to override your proposed spending limit now. He'd laugh in your face. Open your eyes and pay attention ...and give the president the clean bill he asks for to raise the debt ceiling. Stop fearing the Rove machine and acting like republican lite. The more progressive you become the more votes you will win. Be a bold democrat or lose.

  • john lindauer on May 25, 2011 1:26 PM:

    missouri is the "show me" state.

    take a look at this:

    last week. "republicans advocate foodstamps for doctors"

    this week. "disaster relief held hostage by republicans".

    missouri: you have been shown.

    missouri has 11 electoral votes. (in 2008 they went to mccain by less than 1%)

    next time: missouri will show the republicans what it thinks of them.

  • cahnny on May 25, 2011 6:07 PM:

    I hope Cantor keeps up his idiotic rantings until every American who can vote hears him loud and clear. That's what we need to get rid of these lazy, ranting, paper pushers once and for all. If the Republicans keeps this nonsense up Americans will get sooo disgusted with them not one will be able to show his face in public much less run for office again. I, for one, am getting so frustrated and disgusted with these games. You want cuts Cantor. Cut your salary...cut your benefits...cut the amount of money you take from lobbiest. Oh you don't take money from lobbiest. Tell that to someone who believes you. Get elected to office and your set for life if you know how to live within your means. Who cares about tornado victims...who cares about Medicare, who cares about education. Who cares......NOT REPUBLICANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!