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Monday, October 08, 2012
Published October 14, 2011-Updated October 18,
“Politics-The Intellectual Sport”
Politics is an intellectual sport.
The best negotiators sit at the top of the political throne directing the
activities of the court below them. These
politicians understand the thin line between the personal and political and are
able to persuade their opponents without crossing that line. FDR was considered an intelligent politician who successfully
used the famous “stitch in time to save nine” in order to pass the New Deal.
However, some never learn the art of politics and begin throwing the
kitchen sink at their opponents in hopes of a Hail Mary victor.
Such is the case with Congressman Eric Cantor, who attempted to use
Hurricane Irene as a persuasion tool in the ongoing economic debate.
is upset about the debt ceiling being raised and saw this as further evidence of
the government’s “wasteful” spending.
He stated that he will vote against any bill coming to the House floor
for extra funding for the relief efforts associated with Hurricane Irene.
He pointed to what he believes are failed policies of President Obama’s
administration and the Democratic Party. In
particular, Cantor stated that the financial woes are due to a
Democratic Congress that has risen the national debt from $8.67 trillion dollars
to $14.625 trillion dollars. For
Cantor, Hurricane Irene represented another excuse for the government to spend
exponentially. He believes the best
way to deal with the aftermath of the hurricane is to offset the cost with
spending cuts in other areas. Yet,
this argument fails for three reasons.
proposal of cutting spending in order to provide money for the disaster relief
is counterproductive. By cutting spending in one area in order to offset cost in
another, Cantor is proposing to place more pressure on the areas that he wants
to cut as well as the areas he doesn’t want to cut. Basically, whenever there are cuts in one area in order to
fund another area, there is extra debt added on due to the fact that the cuts in
the one area leaves that area short as well.
As a result, the money is not there and other means must be sought in
order to supplement the money that is lost.
In the government’s case, it increases taxes whenever it cannot cover
its debts. This is something Eric
Cantor strongly opposes. However,
his proposal will result in the government being placed back into the same
position of having to borrow money and therefore add an extra debt onto existing
debt, in order to keep the government functioning.
And according to Cantor, this is what is occurring with the federal
stimulus package, debt being piled onto debt.
evidence is there that it is not a good idea to save money for relief efforts by
off seating money in other areas. Previous
Hurricanes like 1992 Andrew, 2004 Katrina, and Tropical Storm Gaston exceeded
the expected cost. Not only does
the government have to worry about lost of life, but there are floods, fires,
power outages, illnesses, and damages to infrastructures that are also factored
into the equation. According to the
Washington Times’ writer Ben Wolfgang’s article, “Officials credit
FEMA Programs, teamwork for minimizing disaster,” President Obama stated that
emergency efforts will be ongoing and the federal government will be there to
assist the states. FEMA
Administrator Craig Fugates stated that they were able to better respond to the
states because of the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.
According to Fugates, New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie
said, “FEMA has been very responsive. Right
now the cooperation between FEMA and New Jersey has been great.”
And Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley stated that FEMA was there
assisting the state before the storm began and has continued to assist them
during the clean up. And due to the collaborative efforts between the federal,
state, local governments, and private organizations, the loss of life was not as
high as it was after 1992 Hurricane Andrew or 2004 Hurricane Katrina.
But based upon Cantor’s argument, the national debt has placed the
country in a position whereby the preservation of life comes second to the
argument has further problems because it is viewed as contradicting to the
position he took against fellow Republican Congressmen Jeb Hensarling’s bill.
According to HUFFPOST’s writer Sam Stein, Cantor voted against a
similar proposal in 2004, introduced by fellow Republican Congressmen Jeb
Hensarling. The proposal was made
after five hurricanes and Tropical Storm Gaston hit the United States.
Hensarling’s bill died in the House with 127 Republicans and all, with
the exception of one, Democrat voting down the proposal.
Cantor, along with the members in both parties, know that the reality of
life being lost made the funding of relief efforts associated with natural
disasters transcend the political. Cantor
appeared to know this fact because like the majority of his fellow House
members, he voted down Hensarling’s bill that is similar to what he’s now
introducing. So a person is left to
wonder what exactly would result in Cantor’s change of heart?
is a member of the Republican and Tea Party chorus who wants President Obama to
be a one-term president. Obama’s
central argument has been that he is trying to boost the economy and put
Americans back to work, but Congressmen like Cantor are more concerned about him
having one term than getting Americans working again.
During the debt-celing debate, the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh
became so concerned that he warned the Republicans that Obama would use their
rhetoric against them. Fox
News’ Bill O’Reily even went so far as to say that this is about
Americans working and not the personal views of either party.
It became so heated that some wondered if the Speaker of the House, John
Boehner, had some rift with his number 2 man, Cantor. Boehner is considered part of the old guard and knows that
politics works on compromise. He
tried to find some middle ground by meeting the president, along with the vice
president and the governor of Ohio, at the politicians’ commons, the golf
course. In the end, Obama
successfully painted Cantor and his party members as placing their personal
views over their duty as public officials.
As a result, Obama persuaded Congress to raise the debt-ceiling, extend
his federal stimulus bill, and agree to a Super 12 Economic Committee.
are indisputable facts politicians know not to ignore. Amongst the top of the list is that the protection and
preservation of life comes before anything else. Whenever there is a threat to human life, whether it’s by
man or nature’s hand, politics and party disputes are to be placed aside.
And the praise President Obama and the government received from
Republican and Democratic governors and their citizens shows that funding for
natural disasters is something that transcends the political.
Yet, Congressman Cantor refuses to hold to this fact as he did in 2004. He sees this as an opportunity to push onto the country his
economic agenda of cutting everything. However,
Cantor’s willingness to cut spending and attempt to cover his dislike for the
Democratic president and Democratic members of Congress by rationalizing his
decision with cuts will lead to more money in the necessary areas, such as
assistance for natural disasters, falls on deaf ears and is equated with cutting
the life support of the country. Many wonder if Cantor, along with some members in the Tea and
Republican Parties, goal is to cut the life support of the country in order to
have a political mantra to ride in on to the 2012 Presidential elections.
If this is the case, than Cantor and some of his fellow Tea and
Republican Party members have committed the ultimate political sin by crossing
the political line into the personal.