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You’ve probably read about how Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, refused to designate emergency aid for Joplin in the wake of Sunday’s tornado unless he got a pound of flesh in the form of cuts to some spending programs that the GOP finds ideologically offensive. Today, he seems to have gotten his way. The price for pumping up a dangerously stretched FEMA?:

House Republicans, who require spending cuts whenever new spending is proposed, said the FEMA funds would be paid by cutting $1.5 billion from an Energy Department loan program for the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. Aides said the measure would probably pass the House next week.

Note the special irony of the particular cut that was exacted. In the same way that one can’t demonstrate that an occurence of lung cancer is a direct result of a lifetime spent smoking, one can’t really say that the string of fierce storms and tornados that have afflicted Missouri this spring are a direct result of global warning, but the fact is that such weather events have been predicted to become more and more common as we enter an age of irrevocable warming. Doesn’t it seem typical of the GOP lack of aptitude for governing that they cut subsidies directed toward mitigating global warming?

The more immediate implications, though, are disturbing enough. When President Obama told  the ravaged city of Joplin that “the American people are by your side,” we just have to understand that that statement excepts GOP lawmakers who are only interested in Joplin’s tragedy as long as they can use it to score an unrelated policy victory – disaster relief as political gamesmanship, in other words.

Russ Carnahan put the GOP behavior into perspective very succinctly on “The Ed Show” last night:

We have a long history in this country of backing up people when they’re at their worst, when they’ve gone through natural disasters. … But to have that debate in the face of the suffering we’ve seen in Joplin is just plain wrong. […]

When you talk about cutting clean energy programs versus cutting subsidies for big oil, let’s have that debate here in Washington. But let’s not have it on the backs of people of Joplin.

What I want to hear now is just how Springfield’s Billy Long, Harrisonville’s Vicky Hartzler, Tarkio’s Sam Graves, or Cape Girardeau’s Jo Ann Emerson responded to this effort to hold the people of Joplin hostage to GOP ideology – and how they would react if it were their community that had been ravaged. And while you’re at it, add Big Oil buddy Roy Blunt to that list – I really want to hear him try, in his inimitable wooden style, to justify the inexcusable. As Oliver Wills put it, “The Republican party has so far gone around the bend, it’s beginning to resemble an actual monster.”  

Image from Wikimedia Commons.