Favorite

Aid politics 

click to enlarge harvey.jpg

The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, doesn't want to talk about his vote and that of many other Texas Republican congressmen against aid packages for Northeastern states after Hurricane Sandy. Politics later, they say.

No, let's talk politics now, when we can anticipate the future, not merely react. And let's remember misjudgments of the past so that they are not repeated. For my part, I choose to remember then-U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who voted time and again against legislation to help the Sandy-stricken in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Cotton argued that the aid packages were bloated. But there was no bloat in the legislation to replenish the fund that pays claims under the federal flood insurance program. He alone among Arkansas congressmen voted against that legislation. He said he could have been persuaded to vote for flood aid if the money had come in cuts elsewhere in the budget. Then-Sen. Mark Pryor tried to use Cotton's heartlessness against him. But. Cotton's opposition to Obamacare helped him defeat Pryor. Cotton also voted against numerous other categorical Sandy spending bills: FEMA's disaster aid fund, mass transit, housing, veteran facilities, rebuilding sea walls in a national park and even the Coast Guard, those heroic lifesavers targeted by Trump for budget cuts this year.

Obamacare and federal disaster aid are both products of a belief in universal responsibility for general welfare. Each seems expensive until it's your sick child or your homeless neighbor without resources to cope.

So we must talk politics.

Days before Harvey hit, for example, Donald Trump said we must roll back requirements to consider climate change and sea-level rise when building roads and bridges. Seems unwise today, doesn't it?

Trump doesn't believe in climate change. But many scientists believe the warmer Gulf waters helped build Harvey's wind speed and take up more water, increasing both the storm surge and storm rainfall.

Billy Fleming, a University of Arkansas graduate, spent three years studying Houston as a Ph.D. candidate. He's posted insightful assessments on Twitter about the political issues that have been ignored there. Coastal land management, for example. Building in flood zones. Also a lack of adequate investment in flood-protection measures before a disaster, not after. He writes that the Harvey disaster in Houston is not just an act of God but "is the product of a disinterested political class in Houston — the physical manifestation of a decades-long failure of government."

It's not a local problem. Houston is of national consequence as a petrochemical producer and industrial port. Most military fuel is produced in refineries near Houston, Fleming writes.

Our shared stake — in both the military-industrial complex and humanity — demands that we move whatever mountains of money are necessary to help Houston rebuild. No congressman should dare suggest repaying one bad turn by Texas congressmen and the likes of Tom Cotton after Sandy with another bad turn.

We can guess that Tom Cotton will not issue a statement post-Harvey such as he issued to defend his vote against Sandy aid: "I pledged throughout my campaign to confront America's debt crisis and today I upheld that pledge by voting against legislation that would have added another $10 billion to our staggering national debt because it did not offset that funding for the national flood-insurance program with equal spending cuts."

Such talk was missing from Cotton in recent Arkansas needs for disaster aid. But — if he is serious about eliminating unnecessary spending — there's that wall he and Donald Trump want to build. Better we should open the gates at Laredo to the Mexicans who've volunteered to help their sometimes hostile neighbors to the north rebuild.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Tags:

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • An open line for Sunday

    An open line.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • City plans more spending on 30 Crossing

    The Little Rock City Board meets Tuesday to set an agenda for the following week and among the "consent" items is a new $175,000 with Nelson/Nygaard consultants to "assist with a comprehensive review" of the 30 Crossing project, otherwise known as the bigger concrete ditch the Department of Transportation wants to tear through the heart of Little Rock.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • NFL owners rise to defense of players against Trump and false patriots

    Many football team owners have risen to the defense of players against Donald Trump criticism as yet another racially fraught issue seems likely to gain increasing heat thanks to Trump's rhetoric.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • Mayoral thoughts

    On free wi-fi, football and more.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Here we see a "social scientist" who begins with an ad hominem argument, and then…

    • on September 24, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Once again commentators blame the victim. Social scientists, of whom I am one, regularly find…

    • on September 22, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Shiny, nobody is saying that Hillary isn't entitled to speak. Shit, the more she talks,…

    • on September 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation