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NB's The Nyle Magazine

Monday, October 08, 2012



Published October 14, 2011-Updated October 18, 2011

“Politics-The Intellectual Sport”

by Nathan’ette Burdine-Follow on Twitter@nbnylemagazine

            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.

Cantor 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.

Cantor’s 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. 

 The 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 economy. 

Cantor’s 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?

Cantor 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. 

There 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.







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