Portents of Doom

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Yes, Congress and the White House managed to punt on any real solutions to our ever-growing debt crisis, reaching a deal that raised a lot of taxes but cut no spending. Yet the real signal that we are truly doomed as a country  may have come from a bill that did not pass – not yet. The House of Representatives failed to pass a $60 billion relief bill for Hurricane Sandy, prompting Republican Governor Chris Christie to act like a petulant child who didn’t receive all that he wanted on Christmas morn.

“There is only one group to blame,” Christie said. “The House Majority and John Boehner.”

“Last night, the House Majority failed the basic test of leadership and they did so with callous disregard to the people of my state,” he said. “It was disappointing and disgusting to watch.”

“Shame on you, shame on Congress.”

Following his remarks, Christie doubled down on his criticism in a lengthy — and incredibly candid — press conference in which he laid into House Republicans for putting “palace intrigue” ahead of their actual jobs.

“Our people were played last night as a pawn…and that’s why people hate Washington, D.C.,” Christie said later. “They forget that we’re the ones who sent them there.”

Representative Peter King (“R” – NY) also blasted his party and even threatened quitting in anger – hours before throwing his support for Speaker John Boehner when others within the caucus attempted to oust him from leadership.

But King and Christie are just speaking out for their poor constituents who desperately need federal aid. Ummm, not exactly. Daniel Foster lists some of the items contained in this bill:

•$2 million to repair damage to the roofs of museums in Washington, D.C., while many in Hurricane Sandy’s path still have no roof over their own heads.

•$150 million for fisheries as far away from the storm’s path as Alaska.

•$125 million for the Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Watershed Protection program, which helps restore watersheds damaged by wildfires and drought.

•$20 million for a nationwide Water Resources Priorities Study.

•$15 million for NASA facilities, though NASA itself has called its damage from the hurricane ‘minimal.’

•$50 million in subsidies for tree planting on private properties.

•$336 million for taxpayer-supported AMTRAK without any detailed plan for how the money will be spent.

•$5.3 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers – more than the Corps’ annual budget – with no statement of priorities about how to spend the money.

•$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies, without identifying a single way to pay for it.

As Foster notes, money has already been appropriated to deal with the immediate situation. And as Katrina Trinko adds, only 15 percent of the money allocated in this bill would actually be spent this year. Some emergency funding, huh? But of course the esteemed Senators from Alaska will not tolerate any criticisms of their pork requests.

These are two very real and very serious disasters that Alaskans are facing. The first being the salmon disaster which was declared a disaster by the federal government this past September – Alaskans are still waiting for relief after the devastating impact on fisheries. After Japan’s generous gift of $5 million, the U.S. government needs to step up to the plate as tsunami debris poses serious navigational hazards and risks to coastal communities. Sandy remains the priority in this bill, but given that many of the dollars allocated for debris will go to charting and mapping it, this bill is a more than appropriate vehicle to bring up these disasters which have severely impacted Alaska’s communities.

This fiasco highlights some things you need to know about our government, and why things will never improve. As Senator Begich’s comments illustrate, there is not a dime of federal spending that will not be defended by someone. No matter how trivial, no matter how seemingly wasteful, there will always be someone out there to defend that dollar (or millions) of appropriation.

More importantly, Christie’s childish reaction shows that even s0-called fiscal conservatives cannot be relied upon to remain level-headed. Surely Christie must be aware that some $20 billion or so of this bill is completely unrelated to dealing with the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. Instead of criticizing those in Congress who decided to weigh down this bill with unnecessary measures, Christie decides to demagogue the issue and blame the people who are at least trying to behave responsibly. Surely Christie could have called upon Congress to mass House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers’s much more reasonable disaster relief bill. But that’s not the Blusterer’s style. This was a moment to get on the evening news, and he wouldn’t have done so had he criticized Democrats.

Chris Christie is the golden child of “fiscal conservatives.” If even he is unwilling to patiently await passage of a reasonably considered bill that would focus on actual hurricane relief, but instead would prefer to scream about the need for IMMEDIATE PASSAGE NOW!!!!!!!!! – then what hope is there that we can ever achieve fiscal sanity in this country.

Ace has some sobering words to consider in light of this fiasco.

Watching “fiscal conservative” Chris Christie fail to say one word about those who demand that relief for his state be bought with unrelated spending for their own states, which weren’t hit by catastrophe — shouldn’t it be noted that Lisa Murkowski and Don Young of Alaska won’t vote for those left homeless by Sandy until some local businesses get their “cut”? — it occurs to me that he is accommodating himself to reality.

The reality is vox populi, vox dei — the voice of the people is the voice of God. And the voice of this particular shabby god has decreed that we shall be financially reckless and we should go through a national bankruptcy, and there’s no sense trying to avoid it, so we’ll just run up a huge tab buying multiple 65 inch 3D tvs before we crash.

Given that the people wish to spend money they do not have, and soon will not have (for all the same reasons that people with bad credit can’t rent a car — your ability to borrow is precisely related to your projected future ability to make good on your loans), and will not be diverted from this disastrous course, what can anyone do?

. . .

But for now, let’s go get a few of those sweet 3D TV’s and watch Pirates of the Caribbean IV.

You’ll think I’m a wonderful, well-providing father… for the next month or so.

After that, you may hold a different opinion of me. Major negative changes in circumstance tend to do that.

But for now– 3D TVs. Have you ever seen such a clear, sort of three dimensional picture? Aren’t I your hero? At this moment, I mean.

We deserve the government we have.


Oh, and before I hear from any wiseguys, two of my brothers had to abandon their flooded homes because of the storm.


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  1. I agree.

    Sixty billion here, sixty billion there – pretty soon you’re talking REAL MONEY.

    The national debt is over 103% of GDP and will shortly hit 130% (then we become Greece) as Obama and Christie are each year spending trillions more than tax receipts. Neither NJ (high tax state) nor the US government can repay their debts.

    And, I live on Long Island. Our Nassau County village had over 140 large trees down and 35 houses severely damaged. We didn’t need to take money from taxpayers in Idaho or from my children and grandchildren to restore eletricity and gas and open our streets. Or, to fix our houses.

    They’re reporting that Bohner pulled the bill b/c Cantor voted “no” on the immense excrement sandwich they call the fiscal cliff deal.

    Anyhow, in a few years it will be all over for the USA.

  2. Despair not: “they can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you.”

    People want to do better. They want to be the people they dream of being.

    During this last snow event (i refuse to call 5 inches of snow a “storm”) i cleared the opening to a shared alley. A neighbor who was finishing his sidewalk headed into the house, only to return five minute later to help. 10 minutes later, another neighbor joined. Within an hour, there were six of us clearing the alley, and then the intersection, and then the road. By the time the plow came through, there was nothing for him to do.

    My point is that we can be Franciscan about this: preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words.

  3. I really don’t know what’s up with the US money-go-round. The largest economy and arguably the wealthiest nation in history is broke – with govt. debt 103% of GDP.
    While our little country – admittedly a little more socialised than I personally would like. but our debt is 41% of GDP – we have an adequate welfare system – some say too generous – unemployment is high at 6.9 % in a relatively small export led economy, and 4.5 million people. Maybe its our small size that makes things easier – but we , under the present govt – unlike the Helen Clark Labour govt -just don’t cave in to every bludger wanting a hand out ( except we are being over-generous to the Maori Greivance Gravy Train)
    And we’ll be back in surplus projected at 2015. Maybe you should get our guys to handle your purse strings 😉

  4. St. Francis may not have sai it but I like the articulation so I think I’ll keep it as is.

    With regards to the US economy, the US spent an obscene amount on war and then threw away the stimulus mony. That is at least part of the difference you see.

  5. “the US spent an obscene amount on war”

    Disagree vigorously G-Veg. Any money that is used to keep my family safer I do not regard in any way as “obscene”. I fear that we will soon get to see that perhaps we failed to allocate sufficient funds for defense considering the number of hot spots that are beginning to glow around the globe.

    “St. Francis may not have said it”

    No may about it, he did not say it. This popped up in the 1990s and you now see it repeated endlessly throughout Saint Blogs.

    Fake quotes are abhorrent to me since they lend authority to a phrase to which it is not entitled. With the advent of the internet fake quotes gain credence because so many people repeat them. Three examples: “We sleep safely in our beds at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on our behalf.” attributed to George Orwell is a fake quote that is repeated endlessly. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” is a favorite George Washington quote that he never uttered. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” was never said by Edmund Burke.

  6. Yeah, I’d say a “phenomenal” amount on defense, not “obscene”. The benefits we get from it include secure international trade, so it’s probably a net gain, but it’d sure be nice if someone else picked up the check every once in a while. (And that’s not even considering the moral consequences.)

    I think that Christie looked particularly good to Republicans back when their bench was weaker. As the years roll by, there’s a natural sorting process, and the new generation will be tested. Paul, Brown, McDonnell, Rubio, and Ayotte, and going back a little further, Palin, Ryan, and Jindal. There will be sex scandals, and words like “macaca”, and random bad luck, and a lot of rising stars will fall. Some will succeed. Two new ones to watch: Ted Cruz in the Senate and Tom Cotton in the House. Great early press.


    The New Year does not bode well for our amoral nation.
    America has become a godless imitation.
    How many more will lose life, liberty, and survival?
    The Constitution and rights must have serious revival.

    The religious freedom we once had is now being denied.
    Objections by religious leaders are being defied.
    The God of Abraham was once our nation’s guiding light.
    Immorality has almost become a legal right.

    Marriage of a man and woman is God’s moral demand.
    Will the Supreme Court now deny His eternal command?
    The American people are enemy number one.
    Our religious liberty and freedoms they have undone.

    Our nation has grown cold to God’s love – we are divided.
    The Ten Commandments are being openly derided.
    Those who do not trust God have misplaced their intended goal.
    They alone have the power to rescue their eternal soul.

    As light fades, what we so proudly hailed no one can now see.
    The ramparts were not watched – we are no longer free.
    The future of America has never seemed so bleak.
    Hope is possible only if the Son of God we seek.

    Bob Rowland

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