So we already had a great diary on the GOP's insistence that disaster relief aid for Joplin could not be given unless budget cuts were made elsewhere. Well, it seems the Republicans found their target: A loan program that supports the production of fuel efficient vehicles:
"If there is support for a supplemental spending measure, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental," Cantor said.
The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday began the process of making that happen by approving a disaster aid package for fiscal year 2012 that would be financed by a $1.5 billion cut from a loan program to encourage the production of fuel-efficient vehicles.
So, not only is disaster relief conditioned on spending cuts. It's conditioned on a spending cut aimed at the type of sensible environmental program that Republicans can't stand.
I mean, that's gotta be the ONLY way to pay for these cuts, right? Raise taxes on the rich? Pffft. Cut our overbloated defense budget in ways that even the Republican Secretary of Defense says is workable? Forget about it. Cut funding for faith-based initiatives? No way. The only way to make this work is by making cuts to programs that progressives support.
Targeting a fuel efficient vehicle program holds a particular irony, since rising global temperatures due to vehicle-based carbon emissions will make deadly tornadoes like the one to hit Joplin even more likely to happen in the future. But that's a story for another day.
And of course, now that they've put together this "aid package," they will say that the Democrats who dare to oppose it are the ones obstructing federal aid for tornado victims.
Senator Claire McCaskell had the perfect response to the House GOP's efforts to hold disaster funding for her constituents hostage:
"There is no question we have to be careful about the way we spend federal money, but with all due respect to Congressman Cantor, I have a hard time believing that if this were in his congressional district he would be talking about how additional disaster relief would not be available unless we found some other program to take it from," McCaskill said.
"It must be available," insisted McCaskill from the floor. "This cannot be a political football. We must provide the assistance. [W]hat federal tax dollars are for is to provide assistance when there is no assistance available for communities because of the wrath of mother nature.”
This is the GOP's strategy now. They view everything from tornadoes to the prospect of defaulting on government bonds as an opportunity to cut the parts of the government they don't like. Want a budget for the rest of the fiscal year? Cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Want to raise the debt ceiling? Slash everything from food stamps to Medicare to college financial aid.
But this takes the cake. Want us to provide aid for the victims of an EF5 tornado? Cut funding for fuel efficient vehicles. That's all they cared about when they heard about this:
That's the far right for you. All they see in the deadliest American tornado in 60 years is a political opportunity.
I'd write a longer diary on this, but really what's the point?