With Texas Republicans who voted against providing relief funding to victims of Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast a few years ago suddenly changing their tune in the wake of the catastrophe that was Hurricane Harvey, it is shocking to find that there are still some Republicans who will put conservative fiscal principles of limited government above the needs of their own constituents, much less those who reside in other states.
That is exactly what Congressmen Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) just did, however.
Both of these two right-wing ideologues were among the 90 Republican representatives who voted against the $15 billion emergency Hurricane Relief Bill in Congress this week, despite the imminent arrival of the largest Atlantic hurricane on record to the shores of their home state.
What could engender such a heartless and short-sighted reaction to a humanitarian aid bill? The simple fact that the disaster aid was bundled with an authorization to raise the country’s debt ceiling.
To these Ayn Rand acolytes, no one deserves any help from the government, unless, of course, the relief aid is offset by a corresponding reduction in spending elsewhere. So no emergency food and water for the people in flooded homes in Texas, no home repair aid to Floridians who find their roof gone after being devastated by a category 4 storm, unless we defund the EPA some more or throw a few thousand more people off of Meals On Wheels.
“Snaking in a debt-ceiling increase with funding for victims and communities affected is immoral and reflective of broken leadership in Washington,” Yoho said in a statement after the vote Friday. “I do not think it wise to extend our borrowing limit without mandatory spending reforms . . . If this was a clean measure that focused on those affected by Hurricane Harvey, I would have proudly voted for it.”
Yoho represents portions of northern Florida, so perhaps he thought that the damage that far from the coasts would be too minimal for his vote to generate any backlash from his constituents.
Rep. Gaetz’s district, however, includes part of Florida’s extremely vulnerable Gulf Coast, and he voted against the measure that he called “generational theft.”
“I have a pretty strident view that I will only vote to raise the debt limit if that vote is accompanied with reductions in entitlement spending,” Gaetz said, according to the Miami Herald. “If conservatives don’t start voting no against debt-limit increases, all the FEMA in the world won’t save us from our must unfortunate destiny.”
He calls his view strident, a word that does not have many positive connotations, but most people would refer to his views with words like “heartless,” “uncompassionate,” “cold-blooded,” “cruel,” and “inhuman,” among other words not fit for print.
For the record, four Republicans in Texas also voted against the bill, which shows that ideology will beat out charitability and mercy in more than one state.
Let’s hope that the constituents of these rigidly partisan ideologues remember what and who really mattered to them in next year’s congressional elections.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.