washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Tomasky: Hurricane Harvey Spotlights GOP Hypocrisy on Federal Spending

At The Daily Beast Michael Tomasky has some choice words for Republican hypocrisy on federal spending. “You could say calling Texas politicians hypocrites because they voted against Hurricane Sandy aid but presumably want every federal dollar they can get their hands on now is shooting fish in a barrel,” Tomasky writes. “That, of course, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Some fish end up in barrels for a reason.”

However, Tomasky adds, “The flood victims are people and they’re Americans, and we should support them getting the federal aid they need, because we believe in the government doing this kind of thing irrespective of who the people are.” Helping Texas get through this disaster is part of our patriotic obligation and also a matter of simple human decency. But that doesn’t mean ted Cruz and other Republican politicians get a free ride on their double standard when it comes to helping people of other states when they experienced natural disaster, nor their monumental hypocrisy about government spending in general, as Tomasky points out:

We should have a discussion about hypocrisy on this question that’s a lot broader than disaster relief. How much federal money do those government-haters down in Texas get, anyway? How many federal dollars go to its many excellent research hospitals? How many federal highway dollars? How much federal money sustains Texas agriculture and livestock? How many senior centers and convention centers and community centers were built with federal money? It’s an awfully big state!

It can be hard to find answers to these questions because no single clearinghouse exists to provide, which is something I’ve long argued some rich liberal ought to fund (read this piece I wrote on the topic in the journal I edit). But I did find this on scientific research funding at higher-education institutions in Texas. The total amount was $4.52 billion in 2014, 45 percent of which came from the feds (20 percent private, 19 percent state, 16 percent from the institutions themselves). Here, if you’re interested, is a documentprepared by some outfit in Texas called the Legislative Budget Board that summarizes the federal money Texas receives in every area from human services to homeland security and everything else. Even if you do no more than browse through the table of contents, you’ll see the staggering extent to which the state, like any state, simply could not function without the federal dollars it gets. Federal funds across the board pay for one-third of everything the state of Texas does.

Democrats and liberals need to do a much better job of getting in the faces of Texas Republicans, and the ones from all the other deep-red states, and calling them on this. Suppose the next time a gun nut shoots up a movie theater in a red state, Democrats muse about withholding federal crime victim assistance money to that state? They shouldn’t do it, of course. But they should make citizens aware of the contradiction that the government-haters live every day of their lives.

Further, notes Tomasky:

Let’s get out of the false narrative that there’s either rugged self-reliance (laudable, American!) or government dependence (weak, foreign!) and nothing in between. In real life, virtually everything is in between. Everybody—yes, everybody—needs the federal government. Even the richest Texas oilman, needs police protection, a fire department, good roads to drive on, clean water to drink and air to breathe, someone to clear take-off and landing for their private planes, and 50 other services that only government can provide and only tax dollars can pay for. I’d happily acknowledge that yes, sometimes government does get in the way, provided they’d acknowledge this obvious truth.

As Tomasky concludes, “So let’s save Houston. But while we do it, let’s remind Texas what it owes Washington.” And let’s do a better job of reminding voters that the same Republicans who trash federal government spending can often be found feeding on it in their home states.

One comment on “Tomasky: Hurricane Harvey Spotlights GOP Hypocrisy on Federal Spending

  1. texas berry on

    The state of Texas will get thru the weather danger much easier that we will get the danger of Republicans!
    Not saying that all Texans are stupid; hell not all of use vote for republicans! I refuse to dignify them with capital letters!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.