Sunday, September 24, 2017

STORM SANDY VS STORM HARVEY byPhyllis Renee' Arpin-Nelson
There's a big hubbub over Storm Sandi relief funding and Senator Ted Cruz, so I decided to go back and look at the bill itself and what the conversation was in 2012. It is easy to find Monday morning quarterbacking columns and articles which are always perfect and all knowing, right? And who wants to dig for facts when people are up to their necks in water, right?

Most may not remember that in 2012, 41 cents of every dollar the federal government was spending was BORROWED, so from Conservatives/Libertarians there was the demand that the federal government cut it's overspending. Remember the term "fiscal cliff"?

Then the disaster named Sandy happened. Money was approved immediately, but then a month after, President Obama requested Congress allocate a funding package of nearly $60 billion on top of the initial funding. That in and of itself was not a problem, in fact, it was expected that more money was needed.

Please re-read my second paragraph at this point. I'll wait......there were actually two emergency bills presented, the $60B bill and a $24B bill by the Republicans. The $60B bill was labelled "emergency" even though much of it was for non-emergency items. For instance, the bill includes money to improve weather forecasting by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), funds for weather research programs, additional cash for upgrading NOAA reconnaissance aircraft, and state and tribal assistance grants for clean water and pollution control. These items should clearly be run through the regular budget and appropriations process rather than tacked on to an emergency spending bill as a kind of wish list of agency requests.

This has been a chronic problem on the federal and state level for decades. A worthwhile/necessary funding bill is proposed and then individual politicians are allowed to tack on special projects, thereby bloating the original bill. In the "fiscal cliff" climate we were in in 2012, several Conservatives, including Senator Cruz stood up and said no to the extras. They DID NOT SAY NO to the Sandy relief money. They said no to the pork which was added, at the demand of those of us who want government spending reduced.

The problem isn't just out of control government spending, but during these disasters, extraordinary amounts of money flows in, much of it without any accountability. For instance we know from investigative reports that as of 2012, FRAUD related to Hurricane Katrina spending was estimated to top $2 billion. In addition, debit cards provided to hurricane victims were used to pay for Caribbean vacations, NFL tickets, Dom Perignon champagne, ‘Girls Gone Wild’ videos, and at least one sex change operation. And as we look at New Orleans, NONE of the problems that contributed to the disaster have been fixed, as reported this week during storm Harvey.

America is very generous, especially in times of great need. Sadly we have politicians that have no problem taking advantage of this generous nature and a media that perpetuates false information. I expect our legislators to present a clean, unencumbered, non-pork filled relief bill for Storm Harvey, just as some tried to do for Storm Sandy. Mia Love from Utah is a staunch proponent of CLEAN BILLS. I stand with Mia and those who tried to bring sanity to the wasteful spending in Washington, even in a time of great need.

This is what our media should be doing. This is what every citizen should be doing, especially in a time when we cannot trust the media to report the facts. Instead it is easier to get caught up in the emotion of the situation and to create memes and headlines that perpetuate wrong information. I am especially disgusted with the media because they know the FIRST headline or report will be the one that is repeated over and over, even if it contains erroneous information. The correction always comes later and "below the fold" and so therefore the original continues to stand.They know how powerful the first headline on anything is, so it is incumbent upon them to make sure it is factual. I do not believe they do this by mistake. It is fully intended to mislead a public who only reads the headline. This is their malpractice.

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