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?