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The day after Mitt Romney mocked President Barack Obama for wanting to keep the oceans from rising, he visited flood-stricken parts of Louisiana recovering from Hurricane Isaac. While there, he showed the human warmth and caring for which he's renowned:
Romney shook hands with National Guardsmen outside the U.S. Post Office and talked with a local resident, Jodie Chiarello, 42, who lost her home in Isaac's flooding.
"He just told me to, um, there's assistance out there," Chiarello said of her conversation with Romney. "He said, go home and call 211." That's a public service number offered in many states.
Go to the home that's submerged under water and call 211. Maybe they'll let the National Guard and the governor know there's a problem. Oh, wait, the National Guard and the governor are already there. I'm not knocking 211, but, you know, first, this woman doesn't have a home to go back to and make a phone call. Second, the disaster relief that exists is pretty much already engaged. Thousands of people are in shelters after fleeing their homes or being rescued from their rooftops. "Call 211" is what you say when it's not clear what help is available.
But surely calling 211 is not all the man who would be president has to suggest about disaster aid, right?
Romney was silent on whether, as president, he would support paying for such an expansion. Romney's running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has proposed eliminating $10 billion a year in disaster spending and requiring Congress to pay for emergencies by cutting from elsewhere in the budget. That proposal was blocked by GOP leaders.
A disaster spending cut so deep it was too extremist for the leaders of today's Republican party, and Mitt Romney chose the guy who proposed it as his running mate. Maybe Romney is suggesting that people call 211 because, under him, that would be the only help available.