Republicans have been advocating and fighting for budget cuts for the past 5 years (since Obama became president). Before then they had no problem running up the deficit on worth while things like the well planned wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that is beside the point. What I’m trying to say is that republicans have become these fiscally conservative ideologues the past few years. It is well and good to stick by this idea until…you need money. There are no better examples of this than when disasters strike. This past week a horrific string of tornadoes struck Oklahoma leaving entire towns in ruins and hundreds of people injured (latest death count at 24). It is unknown the exact extent of the damages but experts estimate that it could be over $2 billion. How do people come back to a normal state when they lost everything, (which is often the case in disasters like this)?
Some may say that private insurance companies have the responsibility to restore the lives of people who purchased the insurance. I agree. Insurance companies own their customers what they paid for. They must fulfill the contract that they signed with the customer. But, as we have seen with recent tragedies, insurance companies can’t keep up with claims. People are still waiting for insurance claims to be settled from Hurricane Sandy damages.
So then, who is to fill in the gap for the people who need support these times of extreme need: the government. We expect and rely on the government to provide the first responders during natural disasters. We expect the government to rebuild the devastated infrastructure. These are things that we need the government for. I believe that this relationship is an essential part of the social contract that we enter into as a citizen of the United States. Government funding for disaster relief has, however, come under scrutiny in the past few years. Hurricane Sandy relief was delayed nearly a month by house republicans. It passed in mid-January with a number of house republicans still voting against helping the people of the northeast. 179 house republicans introduced an amendment which stated that spending cuts on social and other domestic programs would need to happen as a part of the relief package. That was defeated and the people of the North east were given government aid. Those who voted against Sandy relief almost all represented states that reside outside of the northeast.
This whole situation begs the question. What if every representative and senator from outside of Oklahoma decided to deny federal aid to the affected communities? Lets hope that doesn’t happen. Lets hope that our elected officials recognize that helping the nation during and after a natural disaster is one of the essential roles of the government. Inhofe tweeted on Monday, “The devastation in Oklahoma is heartbreaking. Please join me and #PrayforOklahoma. Spread the word”. Prayers alone will not build up these destroyed communities.