Surprise: Emergency Sandy legislation full of millions in non-Sandy spending

posted at 5:21 pm on December 13, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

The argument from those stuffing this thing like a Christmas goose is that we should pay no attention to the fact that they’re up to their elbows because the suffering of those in the wake of Superstorm Sandy is far too great to expend time or energy on passing a clean bill—WHY DO YOU HATE STORM VICTIMS?! It’s hard to think of another situation in which spending far more than one should on things that have nothing to do with helping people in the course of allegedly helping people is considered compassionate while questioning such spending is considered stone-hearted. How’d that kind of accounting work out for Wyclef Jean’s Yele charity of the “Three Cups of Tea” guy? But, hey, welcome to government. Expect less. Pay more.

The request from the White House is for a $60 billion package. That’d be fully three quarters of the amount the Democratic tax hike on those over $250,000 would bring in. ABC on its contents:

The request, which still needs the approval of Congress, includes billions in urgently needed aide. But it also features some surprising items: $23 million for tree plantings to “help reduce flood effects, protect water sources, decrease soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat” in forested areas touched by Sandy; $2 million to repair roof damage at Smithsonian buildings in Washington that pre-dates the storm; $4 million to repair sand berms and dunes at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and $41 million for clean-up and repairs at eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The FBI is seeking $4 million to replace “vehicles, laboratory and office equipment and furniture,” while Customs and Border Protection wants $2.4 million to replace “destroyed or damaged vehicles, including mobile X-Ray machines.”

The Small Business Administration is seeking a $50 million slice of the pie for its post-storm response efforts, including “Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Development Centers.”

Politico tallies some of the millions, too:

Among the spending: $482 million to NOAA for severe weather forecasting, marine debris cleanup, repair of facilities and equipment and coastal ecosystem protection; $810 million to EPA for clean water and drinking water state revolving funds to upgrade water infrastructure; $5 million for EPA’s leaking underground storage tank cleanup program; $2 million for Superfund sites; $3 million to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to repair a New Jersey oil spill response testing facility; $78 million to the Fish and Wildlife Service for national wildlife refuges; and $4.4 million for Forest Service recovery efforts.

Republicans argue that FEMA still has $5 billion in its Disaster Relief Fund, according to ABC, so examining the bill shouldn’t endanger recovery. The Congressional Budget Office reveals just how much of the Senate Democratic bill, written from Obama’s request, is urgent:

While the bill calls for $60.4 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only about $9 billion would be spent over the next nine months. An additional $12 billion would be spent the following year.

The bill is laden with big infrastructure projects that often require years to complete.

Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Brett Guthrie suggest scrutinizing such bills—imagine this—can prevent fraud and abuse:

Some Republicans said they want to see more detailed evidence to insure the money is needed to cover storm damages.

“We need to look and see what the real numbers are,” said Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Ky., a member of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative Republicans. “We have had a tragic storm and we need to figure out how to help, but I don’t know yet what the actual number should be.”

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, a frequent critic of spending he considers wasteful, said Sandy aid should be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere.

Coburn said there was significant waste, fraud and abuse in federal spending related to Hurricane Katrina recovery and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen if Sandy aid is rushed through Congress.

“They’re throwing things to see what will stick to the wall,” Coburn said. “Instead, we ought to be asking hard questions.”

Another loopy Republican wants to pass a smaller relief bill—Suggestion: the $9 billion to be spent this year or that plus the $12 billion for next year?— and then use data to determine where more money should go:

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky has said Congress may want to begin with a smaller aid package for immediate recovery needs and wait until more data can be collected about storm damages before approving additional money next year.

In a charity, such suggestions would be seen as sensible, imperative, even the moral obligation of those seeking to use resources to best help others. Not here. My thoughts and prayers and support are with the people still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. This account of slow progress in Rockaway thanks to a combination of neighbors helping neighbors, city workers, and outside volunteers is characteristic. A joint op-ed by the governors of the three most affected states reinforces the sheer amount of damage. I’m not arguing against a federal role in disaster recovery, though I think blind reliance on it in the immediate wake of a disaster lacks vital flexibility, but I do want to evaluate its efforts with at least the same rigor we bring to the Red Cross.

“We do have concerns about the fact that it’s so massive and that its individual branches are not separate corporations that we can analyze independently,” Berger told The Daily Beast. “When an organization is this large, I think it becomes harder to manage all of its moving parts. The potential for risk is enormous.”

We must get past the idea that a mere allocation of large amounts of money or passage of a bill is by itself the solution to a problem. This is something liberals understand perfectly well in other contexts. If spending more were always the answer, Mitt Romney would have won the TV ad war. See? Obama knew how to make critical decisions about where to best spend a finite amount of money in an election, and it worked for him. We should try the same thing in the federal government, even (especially!) in times of crisis.

Charity Navigator has a list of highly rated charities working in the area. Please consider a donation. If you’re among our readers in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut and have worked with smaller charities doing demonstrably good work on the ground, there, please let me know.

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Harlots on the dole!!!

Schadenfreude on December 13, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Just have the mooch forgo her monthly lobster budget. Problem solved.

HumpBot Salvation on December 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Surprise: Emergency Sandy legislation full of millions in non-Sandy spending

…I hate these fluken people!…they just don’t get it!
We need a revolution!
They tie in robbery…. with help…EVERY time!

KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Where are all the trolls acknowledging Obama’s ownership of this debacle?

Galt2009 on December 13, 2012 at 5:26 PM

Pork wallows on both sides of aisle.

SteveInRTP on December 13, 2012 at 5:28 PM

How “unexpected”.

Been there. Done it.

When the storm hits you’re on your own. Deal with it.

Cody1991 on December 13, 2012 at 5:28 PM


But, nothing new.

UltimateBob on December 13, 2012 at 5:30 PM

wolfie bringing in dem taling heads to praise rice

cmsinaz on December 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM

ooopsie, wrong thread

cmsinaz on December 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM

Didn’t they raise $30 million last night? Don’t these people have insurance? I’d say this is a slush fund for east coast spending largesse and union paybacks….again.

I guess we’ll nightly weeping and knashing of teeth by Shep Smith telling us how needy everybody is and next year it will be another round of millions to pay for health crisis brought on by strong winds and blown down shacks on the beach.

DanMan on December 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM

obama calling china for more money in 5…4….3….

cmsinaz on December 13, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Just like Katrina…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on December 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Heckuva job, Bammie.

Midas on December 13, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Where’s my money. We got some rain here in Toledo from Sandy and I got wet.

rbj on December 13, 2012 at 5:35 PM

And Blue States thought they were so special.

Lolololol……… the joke’s on you. Cast your votes and choke on them.

Cody1991 on December 13, 2012 at 5:36 PM

and the fiscal insanity continues………but there goes Boehner to the Oval Office to meet with O nonetheless.

CoffeeLover on December 13, 2012 at 5:37 PM

Hmm, i’m torn. I’m of two minds here; one says, “whatever, let it burn”; the other says, “they voted for obama, frack ’em – they’re just getting an early view of post-barackalypse america.”

Midas on December 13, 2012 at 5:38 PM

No … really????????

Why, I’m shocked … SHOCKED … to find that politics is going on in here.

BD57 on December 13, 2012 at 5:38 PM

I thought Bud Schuster was dead. Did someone resurrect him?

listens2glenn on December 13, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Wasn’t there a huge mega thing yesterday, 12/12/12 where gobs of singers did their thing for sandy funds? Where WILL this money go? EVERYTHING the feds and any organization or citizens here in the US does to help gets someplace in some states favorite want-a-be fund? He!! if we do or He!! if we don’t?

letget on December 13, 2012 at 5:39 PM

The request from the White House is for a $60 billion package. That’d be fully three quarters of the amount the Democratic tax hike on those over $250,000 would bring in.

Heh. Man, just goes out so fast doesn’t it? Got most of it spent on the other white meat before an agreement is even reached on how to collect it.

a capella on December 13, 2012 at 5:42 PM

Oh well – it’s just money.


Pork-Chop on December 13, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Just have the mooch forgo her monthly lobster budget. Problem solved.
HumpBot Salvation on December 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Naw, It wouldn’t work.
You’d have to cut off the Wagyu, Caviar and Cristal budget too.

(And droids don’t pull your arms off when they lose that… But she would.)

LegendHasIt on December 13, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach, or even wipe themselves, are in congress….. How stupid can people get? This is the reason the country is in financial crisis…. morons like this. Term limits, term limits, term limits……… a**holes. I would give anything for 10 minutes on the floor of congress and 10 more on the floor of the senate. Our founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

ultracon on December 13, 2012 at 5:49 PM


right of the dial on December 13, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Never let a good crisis go to waste.

syncrodude on December 13, 2012 at 5:55 PM


Dr. ZhivBlago on December 13, 2012 at 6:00 PM

I saw a few seconds of Mick this morning and thought who would pay to watch that 70 yo scarecrow strut and point and then realized it was all about the Sandy. Blissfully unaware. Spent the evening watching old Barbara Stanwick films. Man she was good looking!

A buddy with Comcast said it was on 27 channels. “Were they different stages? different performers?” Nope he said. All the same.

DanMan on December 13, 2012 at 6:04 PM

porkulus III…

East coast burns while their money is spent banning salt and cigarettes and trans fats and big sodas. They shower riches on marginal teachers and hand out free condoms.

If the feds give them a dime, it sends a very loud message to the states that tried to live within their means…you were STUPID…

teejk on December 13, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I like to attach a rider to this bill. 50 thousands dollars to the perverted arts.

All those in favor of Hurricane Sandy relief and the perverted arts bill say aye.

tjexcite on December 13, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Just like Katrina there’s going to be epic fraud involved in all this ‘urgent’ disaster relief. That roof repair to the Smithsonian will not go to tender and will be 400% over the average cost for instance. Or the company will get paid and not even do the work.

CorporatePiggy on December 13, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Surprise? ROTFLMAO!!!

The liberal media ALL told the story of how 0bama FIXED the damage done by Sandy, so let’s not waste a single penny on this typical liberal money laundering scheme. If the media LIED then SEND THEM THE BILL!

DannoJyd on December 13, 2012 at 6:40 PM


KOOLAID2 on December 13, 2012 at 7:13 PM

Can’t wait until they get their hands on last nights concert booty.

Any guesses who’s going get that?

ccrosby on December 13, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Call me uncaring, cold blooded, racist, what have you…I could care less about the northeast and I believe they should not receive one dime from the fed.(read:my tax dollars)

Mr. Arrogant on December 13, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I live in NJ. I was without electric power for 13 days in the storm. I live 3 miles from the Ocean I was lucky my home was not damaged. The people who live by the Ocean did not fare so well. I feel sorry for them, but I can’t help thinking that this State heavily voted for Obama! How many of these shore people voted for this Mutant? If they did, how do they feel now that they are getting screwed by this piece of shit who promised immediate help but has done nothing so far? I want to feel sorry for them but it is very difficult at this time! I hope God forgives me, but remember, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”.

Jersey Dan on December 14, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Every farm-boy knows,
Before you feed the chickens,
You must feed the pig

If money is going to be thrown around, you have to make sure that each and every teat-sucking maw of government waste is full to the brim before you can take the money that is left over to apply to the problem you are trying to solve.

And, until the maximum amount of money has been looted and every crony has gone home with his chest full of gold, it is very important to make sure you don’t solve any problems. Because once the problem is solved, the money-spigots turn off, and you have to wait for the next disaster.

Haiku Guy on December 14, 2012 at 8:37 AM

If 60,000 homes were destroyed, you could spend a Million Dollars replacing each and every one of them, and still not come up to the amount of money they are talking about flushing down a rat-hole here. For $60B they could re-build the sand-dunes with hundred dollar bills.

Haiku Guy on December 14, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Looks like the Hot Air Staff is learning to read Federal Budgets and Bills. Oh how the Government like to lie and hide from “We The People”. Now we have to teach all the readers that it’s not that hard to see through the smoke and mirrors. Then convince the members of Congress that “We The People” know what they are really doing.

Here are a few good place for historical budgets and appropriations.

Nice work MKH not in your usual style but I like it and it is necessary. Beats a revolution any day.

jpcpt03 on December 14, 2012 at 10:35 PM