Posted by | May 29, 2011 18:27 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

Last week Alan mentioned how Eric Cantor is denying emergency disaster relief funds to tornado victims in Joplin, MO unless they are first paid for with politically-motivated spending cuts. Today on CBS’ Face the Nation Cantor doubled down on using the tornado victims as political hostages for spending cuts to clean energy. He compared the situation to that of a family facing an unexpected expenditure.

“Because families don’t have unlimited money,” Cantor said. “And, really, neither does the federal government.”

I could go into all of the different macroeconomic reasons why comparing the budget of the United States federal government to that of a typical American family is one of the most moronic and ignorant analogies ever made, but that is an argument for another day. The much larger issue with Cantor’s comments are the disdain and callousness he is showing towards the Joplin victims, his vile political opportunism, and worst of all, his unbearable hypocrisy.

During this serious environmental crisis that has left more than  100 people dead, Cantor’s first thoughts as an elected representative weren’t “what can I do to help these suffering people,” they were “how can I use this tragedy to push my own ideological agenda.” Last week the Republican House put together a $1 billion aid package to be offset by $1.5 billion in loan incentives to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. The debate over whether to subsidize clean energy or the oil and gas industry is one that needs to take place, but the Cantor’s use of the Joplin victims as leverage in that debate is unacceptable.

Forgetting Cantor’s coarse opportunism for a second, if he was even remotely ideologically consistent in his desire that all deficit spending be paid for, maybe it would be excusable in some people’s eyes (not mine); but Cantor is insisting that $1 billion in emergency disaster aid be paid for. This is the same politician who demanded that $678 billion in Bush tax cuts for the wealthy be extended without being offset by spending cuts. Cantor went so far as to acknowledge that extending the tax cuts for the rich would make the deficit worse, but felt they were essential.

If only he felt that way about disaster relief for the Joplin tornado victims.

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