The New York Times' Robert Pear writes about the people held hostage in this third round of Republican brinksmanship.
UNKHANNOCK, Pa. — Standing in the living room of their house, now full of mud, slime and debris, Helen and Peter Kelly cannot believe that Congress is bickering over disaster aid to people like them.
The roaring waters of the Susquehanna River burst into their home more than two weeks ago. “Water — you work with it every day, and then it destroys your whole life,” Mrs. Kelly said.
Her husband, still looking shell-shocked, said: “We lost everything. Stove, washer, dryer, TV. Hot water heater, clothes, dishes, refrigerator. Everything, just gone.”
The Kellys also lost confidence in government and politicians.
“I wish they would understand that people like us are really in need of assistance,” Mr. Kelly said, pointing to a bathtub filled with mud and to the blades of a ceiling fan twisted out of shape by torrents of floodwater.[...]
People here in northeastern Pennsylvania, already traumatized by the loss of their homes, were further disheartened by word that FEMA’s disaster relief fund was running short of money.
“Members of Congress are playing with people’s lives, not just their own political careers,” said Martin J. Bonifanti, chief of the Lake Winola volunteer fire company. “While they are rattling on among themselves down there in Washington, people are suffering.”[...]
Eugene J. Dziak, director of the Wyoming County Emergency Management Agency, in Tunkhannock, said he knew of 61 families that were homeless and needed temporary housing. He also needs help hauling off rubble and cleaning out buildings where mold has formed and could cause health problems.
This is just one part of the reason Democrats feel they have the upper hand in this showdown, because they clearly are fighting on the moral side of this debate. The Republicans are actually fighting to not give aid to disaster victims unless a successful program manufacturing energy-efficient cars—a program that's created thousands of jobs—is cut. As Sargent explains,
Dems think the debt ceiling battle has successfully established them as the reasonable party that’s seeking true balance on fiscal issues, having agreed to so many GOP demands on the spending cut front. Dems also believe the debt ceiling fight established public perceptions of the GOP’s pursuit of endless spending cuts as being fundamentally ideological in nature, and not motivated by a desire to craft sensible policy.
They have a point. Even Herman Cain gets this one: "Stop playing with peoples' tragedies—these are real people we’re talking about."