Eric Cantor plainly wants to demonstrate what a tough-minded budgeter he and the Republicans are. Now, we can argue about the wisdom of dealing with an economic disaster with federal dollars without offsets, but honestly folks, are historic disasters the appropriate time to show off just how much of a fiscal hawk you are?

Our framers gave us the ability to take out debt for a reason: **** happens. What’s more, it doesn’t restrict itself to happening in times when we have the means to simply pay for it all ourselves. Now, the East Coast Earthquake that struck in Mineral, VA was a rare event, in fact exceedingly rare on the timescale of US History. Expecting people to be insured for this kind of rare event, and chastising them for not preparing for the risk is idiotic. If somebody had told you that the Washington Monument would have been cracked by an earthquake, you’d have probably asked them what work of science fiction that was from.

It’s also a rare thing to take a direct hit from a hurricane, much less for the track to take it at hurricane strength all up the East Coast. This is going to be a storm to remember.

But Eric says, forget that if you don’t offset it from the budget.

I say forget Eric Cantor. Times are hard enough for the average American and the economy as a whole. Are we to take another cut in services, another cut in economic activity, to make up for the consequences of the storm? This isn’t rugged individualism, this is dogged adherence to and already oversimplified catechism of supply side economics.

Ah, but we were stupid enough to give this guy real power, weren’t we?

This may end up being one of the most expensive disasters this country faces, and he wants us to foot the bill now, out of an already strained economy, an economy already facing enough uncertainty, enough drag on its activity, especially fiscal drag from the hundreds of thousands of jobs that Republicans have killed already.

Are they looking to take this country to the breaking point, holding hostage this nation’s economic prosperity and prospects for recovering from this historic disaster, just to get their way politically?

I don’t think Cantor should be using situations like this in order to leverage himself into a more favorable light, politically. I don’t think we should penalize the rest of the economy right now in order to absorb the costs of these disasters. The whole point of the debt finance provision in the constitution, which Republicans abused for years before handing things off to the Democrats, is to serve our country in its time of immediate need. If we have a war we need to fight now, and equip for now, we shouldn’t have to wait for revenues. If, as in WWII, we need to win the war more than we need to balance the budget, we take the hit, do the debt spending, and we worry about things later.

When disasters hit, whether economic, natural, or man-made, we don’t need to be getting cheap on our nation’s good fortunes. We need to recover as soon as we can, so we don’t end up setting a less prosperous new normal for ourselves. That’s what debt should be for, not absorbing the costs of elective wars and new programs that politicians can’t be bothered to pay for. And the people who spent like drunken sailors while giving everybody free tax cuts have no business trying to exploit disasters like these to make themselves look good as fiscal conservatives.

The good fortunes of the people of the East Coast and America are more important than a small-minded false consistency that takes abusive measures of stinginess, in order to make up abusive levels of irresponsibility earlier.


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