Free Markets, Free People

The “Irene makes big government okay again” lobby

Well now we know why, at least for some, Hurricane Irene was so hyped.   It gave apologists for big government a chance to spin the response into plaudits for big government and a claim it is still necessary.  Missing, of course, is any context or proportion.  Those, like Dana Milbank and Steve Benen, just use the opportunity to bash small government conservatives in general and the Tea Party in particular.

And they brilliantly erect giant strawmen and then just flat tear them apart.


Tea Partyers who denounce Big Government seem to have an abstract notion that government spending means welfare programs and bloated bureaucracies. Almost certainly they aren’t thinking about hurricane tracking and pre-positioning of FEMA supplies. But if they succeed in paring the government, some of these Tea Partyers (particularly those on the coasts or on the tornadic plains) may be surprised to discover that they have turned a Hurricane Irene government back into a Katrina government.

Tea Partiers have a very specific notion of what government spending means to them and it certainly isn’t just centered in the canard of “welfare programs and bloated bureaucracies.”   In case Mr. Milbank hasn’t noticed, his big government now owes more in debt than our economy produces in a year.  That is the problem the Tea Party has with “big government”.  And, frankly, that’s a problem Milbank should have with it too.  Instead he spends a column  touting big government using the pretext of a natural disaster (and government’s response to it) to attack those who object to the continuing deficit spending of big government.  Instead, if had in sense, he’d be leading the charge to rein it in.

Stipulated, there are things that government can do because of government’s orientation.  Wage war, for instance.   But that doesn’t then excuse the excesses elsewhere.  Nor does it justify its intrusion in areas it has no business being in.  And it certainly doesn’t justify it spending more than it takes in.  Those are the Tea Party’s objections to big government’s spending, Mr. Milbank.  Please try to present them properly the next time you attempt the subject.

Of course nonsense like Milbank’s above lead to absurd conclusions in order to attempt to persuade:

The other model is to have a weak federal government, without the funds to forecast storms or to launch a robust emergency response in time to do any good. You might call that the Tea Party model.

Really.  Who said anything about a “weak federal government”?  I believe what the Tea Party is more interested in is a Constitutionally structured federal government that does its job, stays out of areas it doesn’t belong, and spends no more than the revenue it takes in.  Oh yeah, and the real pesky part – doesn’t engage in social engineering.

As for Benen he seconds Milbank:

That Tea Party model, by the way, isn’t a hypothetical scenario — congressional Republicans are not only unwilling to provide emergency disaster relief without offsetting spending cuts, they’re also eager to cut the resources NOAA needs to track storms, while also slashing the FEMA budget.

This week, federal agencies are winning generally rave reviews, but if the public expects equally competent disaster response efforts in the future, Americans will have to hope the GOP agenda is rejected.

Oh, the horror – those dastardly Republicans want to actually not spend in a deficit mode.  They want to live within the revenue stream that the federal government has coming in.  Imagine wanting to offset spending in one area to ensure payment in another without borrowing money?  Those simple Tea Partiers!  Don’t they know that sometimes you just have to spend, spend, spend?

Uh, gee Mr. Benen, isn’t that what has gotten us into this mess in the first place?  The fact that the government actually got something right for a change doesn’t then justify “big government”.  What it does is demonstrate nothing more than every now and then a blind squirrel will find an acorn.  Lord knows the fed has had enough practice it’s certainly something it should be getting right.  But then, our military has been “getting it right” on disaster relief missions outside the country for years, decades even.   It’s not like there wasn’t precedent.   Yes, again stipulated, sometimes it takes a big organization to do what is necessary in a disaster to provide aid where needed.   That said, that doesn’t excuse “big government”, spending excesses, waste, fraud, abuse, intrusion into areas the government doesn’t belong, social engineering via the tax code and other means and bankrupting the nation.

What is it about these types of apologists for big government that they don’t seem to ever be able to quite grasp those points?


Twitter: @McQandO

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40 Responses to The “Irene makes big government okay again” lobby

  • Classic straw-man BS from the Collective.
    If you are for LIMITED (i.e., Constitutional) government, they cast you as being anti-government.  This is, of course, a lie.
    Indeed, it seems intuitive that a LIMITED central government will be robust and sustainable.  Conversely, a mega government that attempts to do EVERYTHING will do nothing well…while being ENORMOUSLY expensive.
    I have watched with interest as events in the broad mid-section of the nation went essentially without Federal response.
    I have heard that resources were redirected, for instance, AWAY from Joplin and TO the East Coast.  I know that MEXICO had Federal assistance from Obama, while he denied a natural disaster declaration for Texas.
    This appears to be a gob-smackingly cynical instance of the Obamabanana Republic at work, where even disaster response is politicized.

    • But notice the “big government” is fine as long as somebody else is paying for it.
      Imagine the hey and cry if a politician announced that when the Bush tax cuts sunset, that everybodies taxes will go up.

      • That last, naturally, gives the lie to the chant we’ve heard for a decade that Bush gave “tax cuts to the very wealthy”.
        Hate lies and liars.

    • Well, Mexico is a friendly state, while Texas is not. You can’t expect Obama to help our enemies, can you?

  • Dana Milbank is still being printed? And paid for it?
    (Also, I think you mean “wasn’t precedent” or “weren’t precedents”, not “wasn’t precedence”. While grammatically valid, the latter’s meaning is nonsensical in context.)

  • What makes me grit my teeth about this kind of blather is that these are the same people bemoaning how we don’t have “reasonable and moderate arguments any more”. Just like our imbecilic polisci professor, they want “reasonable argument” where they get to define what’s reasonable and rule everything they don’t like as extreme and unhelpful.

    If these guys had their way, big government would never be challenged except a tiny bit at the margins to keep up appearances. In fact, they’ve had their way for a long time now, and I think part of the reason for their increasingly strident blather is that they’re cottoning on to the fact that those days are coming to an end.

  • Maybe Milbank and Benin could explain where free cell phones for poor people in Pennsylvania are a necessary part of making everyone safe from a hurricane or tornado?
    Can they explain how funding shrimp on treadmills are a necessary part of making everyone safe from a hurricane or tornado?
    Rock and Roll hall of fame?
    Combating Teenage ‘Goth’ culture?
    Conservation reserve that pays people NOT to farm?
    Corporate welfare?
    Farm subsidies to ‘hobby farmers” like Ken Lay?
    Funding for fictional colleges?
    Food stamp overpayment?
    School lunches?
    (need I really continue?)
    Will failure to fund those endanger us ignorant taxpayers before, after, or during a hurricane or tornado?
    Typical liberal bullspit – “if you say you don’t want to fund my pet program, than you logically must not want to fund ANYTHING!”
    Talk about childish reasoning –
    Let me sum up for them – yes, Dana, Stevie, we want to kill old people, starve children, and murder puppies.  We want to re-institute both real slavery, indentured servitude AND child labor, chain women to sewing machines in firetrap garment sweatshops, do away with any kinds of consumer protections, allow unbridled use of deadly chemicals in the air, water and food, and start as many wars as we possibly can because we’re conservatives, and well, we just like war, a lot.
    Grow (the fluck) up.

    • By the way, many libs on-line don’t believe me when I mention free cell phones plans are available for poor people.

      • Yeah, that google search thingie, too hard, too hard.
        Coming up with the search criteria – ouch, too much thinking.
        Be kind, help them out, have them try – Pennsylvania cell phones poor
        or how about – The Federal Universal Service Fund.
        but hell, it’s only quoted at $4billion, why bother to exert 10 seconds of typing and searching to see if Harun is full of crap or not?
        You can send them to THIS one.  So priceless it has to be real.
        Excerpt from one of those articles that didn’t come up in the oh so difficult search.
        ” Assurance Wireless and SafeLink from Tracfone Wireless, which specializes in “no-contract” cellular service. The federal Universal Service Fund, which all telecommunications providers support as required by federal law, pays for the programs.
        Amy Storey, a spokeswoman for CTIA – The Wireless Association in Washington, said all U.S. wireless carriers charge consumers a fee to recover the cost of their contribution to the fund, which varies quarterly as determined by the Federal Communications Commission.”
        When you’re done man,  do me a favor, tell them to sit on it,  and rotate.  Maybe that will give them time to reflect on what other fees & charges (sometimes honestly labeled as taxes) they may currently pay for things in their daily lives as workers for “Crazy Eddie’s Free Government Giveaways!”
        Remember Crazy Eddie’s motto – “Down here at Crazy Eddie’s, we give your stuff away, so you don’t have to!”.

  • ” pre-positioning of FEMA supplies.”

    Like those toxic FEMA trailers? Well, it would give them time for the toxic vapors to evaporate.

    Since most disaster aid is handled by states, localities, and NGOs like the Red Cross, just how much of what type of supplies does FEMA need to stockpile that isn’t already stockpiled? Not to mention military and other existing federal stockpiles.

    • As we saw in Katrina…Wal-Mart does it better, and their truck-drivers are not nearly as wussie.

    • On CSPAN today I heard some Louisiana state emergency planning suit. He was saying the state was working on building relationships with WalMart, Lowes, Ace hardware, etc. so that in case of need they could just get stuff and worry about paying for it later. I doubt the feds could match that.

  • Perhaps not as off-topic as all that, but…
    How come nobody insists on a periodic replaying of 9/11?
    That was the biggest disaster that I can recall.  As big and bad as Katrina was, it was not nearly as ramifying as my nation being attacked.
    It seems that the images are embargoed, and I’d like to know who the FLUCK thinks they can do that.

    • It seems that the images are embargoed, and I’d like to know who the FLUCK thinks they can do that >>>> Rags, you know the answer to that.  The people who think they can do that are the people who have the images.  Need they be named?

  • Tea Partyers who denounce Big Government seem to have an abstract notion that government spending means welfare programs and bloated bureaucracies. Almost certainly they aren’t thinking about hurricane tracking and pre-positioning of FEMA supplies.

    Oh, like before Katrina?


    But this is the problem, isn’t it?  “Big Government” only works when (A) it works and (B) the RIGHT people are in charge.  When it DOESN’T work (you know: like before Katrina or 9-11?), it isn’t Big Government’s fault.  Heads I win, tails you lose.

    At any rate, I echo the other commenters: the point of the Tea Party and “libertarian / conservatives” in general, is that government should be LIMITED, not non-existent.  I seem to recall reading some document that defines what the US federal government can do.  Oh, where did I see it…

    Billy HollisWhat makes me grit my teeth about this kind of blather is that these are the same people bemoaning how we don’t have “reasonable and moderate arguments any more”. Just like our imbecilic polisci professor, they want “reasonable argument” where they get to define what’s reasonable and rule everything they don’t like as extreme and unhelpful.

    Exactly.  It’s part ‘n’ parcel with defining opposition to the welfare state as racist, or a desire to reform Social Security and Medicare as a plot to to kill old people, or public professions of faith as religious extremism.

  • Wasn’t it Big Government projects that grew NO in size to where it was mostly below sea level?  This actually lowered a portion of NO that was otherwise above sea level.  If NO was smaller and mostly above sea level, I get the impression the situation would have been far less serious. 

  • What I have seen is an orgy of economic illiteracy by all of the talking heads bringing up the Broken Windows Fallacy.
    By stating that rebuilding after a disaster makes us better off because we have shiny new things!  But of course that is just hogwash, the rebuilding costs money and the money has to come from somewhere, and that money could have been used for other things.
    No, disasters just represent a dead ass loss to the economy.

  • So let me get this straight…..disaster response justifies federally funded cowboy poetry?

  • just saw this…sort of abstract to the story, but certainly implores big Guv…you evil tea partiers

  • This is the worst of all of the arrogant a-hole arguments out there.  NO JACKASSES WE ARE NOT ANARCHISTS!  Nor is disaster relief, something government should do, the same as wealth transfers and corporate bashing, things that government should not do.
    Being in favor of limited government means that we want a strong, slender, and efficient government that is effective in the few things it should be doing. Not wasting away all of our substance chasing chimeras of social engineering.

  • Bit it seems even “big government” has it’s limitations …

    FEMA is making its own adjustments. To make room in its budget for cleanup efforts after Irene, the agency is delaying some rebuilding projects in Joplin, Missouri, where devastating tornadoes struck this year.
    “For any projects that have not come in for approval, we’re not going to be able to fund those at this point. We’re going to postpone those,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said at a White House briefing Monday, referring to some efforts in Joplin.
    Missouri’s two U.S. senators released statements blasting the bureaucratic move.
    “If FEMA can’t fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that’s unacceptable,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said in a statement.
    The criticism from the state’s Democratic senator was just as harsh.

    • As noted above…it looks like disasters are fully politicized under the Obami.  They must have checked off Missouri as a blue state, and figured it would be better to throw the aid at Vermont.

  • BIG GOVERNMENT tends to make us all dependents and supplicants…the opposite of the self-governing people the Founders intended and largely were.
    We are being subtly pushed onto mass transit.  But look at what Bloomberg did; he ORDERED evacuations AND ORDERED the means to evacuate shut down for people who depend on mass transit.  People with cars were no subjected to that idiocy.
    This story is a fine example of BIG GOVERNMENT, as opposed to the LIMITED government charted by the Constitution…

    • The federal government has sued a major trucking company for its firing of driver with an admitted alcohol abuse problem.
      Alcoholism is classified as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the suit maintains, and therefore employees cannot be prohibited even from driving 18 wheelers due to their histories of abuse.

      What more needs be said…???

      • But I will bet that the trucking company will be held liable if that drunken driver causes a wreck.

  • OT:

    “Yes, Gaddafi could live in a hole. He’s proud of being the guy who lives in a tent.
    “He’s an old revolutionary Stalin type, who will try to survive anywhere he can,” Buhagiar said.
    Well, at least Libya won’t go communist.


    Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said the Republican plan in the House would achieve the goal of providing “responsible funding for critical infrastructure needs without adding to the deficit.” He said the GOP plan would limit what is spent to what is taken in from the gas tax, and questioned why the president was raising alarm about the bill.
    “Aside from the president today, no one has suggested the highway bill will be allowed to expire. These types of scare tactics are irresponsible, transparently political, and needlessly add uncertainty to our economy,” he said in a statement. “Republicans support an extension of the highway bill and appreciate the need for a long-term solution for infrastructure projects. … Despite his remarks today, so far we’ve not seen a comparable proposal from the president.”

    Read more:
    Kinda like Bad Luck Barry is trying to create a “crisis” and a “hostage situation”…

    • “Kinda like Bad Luck Barry is trying to create a “crisis” and a “hostage situation”
      He’s extrapolated Emmanuel’s philosophy of “never let a good crisis go to waste” into “turn everything into a crisis so as to exploit it”.
      If Krugman would just signal his home planet that we’re ripe for invasion, Barry wouldn’t be forced to make crap up.

    • And now, his latest Plan, a speech on Sept 7th…
      He keeps saying that word…

  • From the East German-style Obami “Boy, can we pick ’em” file of central planning…
    Markets innovate, efficiently allocate resources, and raise the standard of living.

    • Let’s see, the electric car company, the solar panel manufacturer in Massachusetts, now the one in California….
      With apologies to J.M. Barrie
      “It’s voice was so low that at first he could not make out what was said. Then he thought made it out.
      Obama thought the economy was saying that it would be well if children believed in socialist fairies and green power!

      The President flung out his arms. There were no children there, and it was night time; but he addressed Congress, and all who might be dreaming of his socialist Neverland, and who were therefore nearer to him than you think.

      “Do you believe?” he cried.

      The economy tried desperately to get his attention, as it had most certainly NOT said anything of the sort.
      However, it fancied it heard answers in the affirmative, and then again it wasn’t sure.
      Nevertheless it grasped at him, trying to make him listen.  Oil, Coal, fewer strangulating business regulations.  Less government spending!  BUT NOT MARXISOCIALIST GREEN FAIRIES!
      It collapsed back on to the bed, unheeded.
      But the President knew what he needed to do. He always knew, he knew everything.   He’d give a quick speech!

      “If you believe,” he shouted to the world “clap your hands; don’t let the economy die!”

      A few  clapped.

      Many (racists, all) didn’t.

      A few beasts hissed.”
      After a moment Obama realized, beyond all reasoning, his speech didnt didn’t seem to make any difference.  It wasn’t like before when all he had to do was speak and the waters receded, the ice stopped melting, and his Noble Prize was assured.  He puzzled and puzzled as the economy slumped over, virtually comatose.
      “That didn’t seem to work” he mused, “perhaps I’ll think of something if I go and hit a couple balls in Hawaii.  If only people would just go back to believing in me like they used to, everything would be swell!”