Chris Christie to Congress: Forget the spending cuts for a minute and pass that disaster aid money now

Commenters in Headlines were peeved at him for this earlier, but for different reasons. Some are tired, understandably, of the Christie “tough guy” shtick. Others seem to be in the Ron Paul camp and think it’s time to dump federal emergency assistance altogether. Which is great, but Republicans will never get behind that, especially after the political beating the party took post-Katrina. They’ve got a tough enough task explaining to grandma that we can’t afford to fund Medicare as much as she might like or else the Treasury will eventually melt down. Imagine trying to explain to a guy sitting in the rubble of his house after a hurricane that we can’t afford, say, $10 billion out of trillions in annual spending to help him and others get back on their feet.

What irritates me about this isn’t that he wants the money, it’s that the accusation he’s throwing at Congress simply … isn’t true. Weigel has a solid post replying to his core charge, that somehow the House GOP might sit on disaster aid for weeks on end while they haggle over where in the budget the offsetting cuts should come from. Not so. Even Cantor, who demanded offsetting cuts in return for Irene aid a few days before the hurricane made landfall, has never said he’d withhold the aid until the cuts are done. They’ll push the aid out when they’re back in session and then do the cuts later, maybe as part of a DHS appropriation or maybe with a tweak to the new disaster fund that they just passed. All Christie’s doing here is grandstanding.

Incidentally, since we’re on the subject of hurricanes, do not miss this superb WSJ piece about how FEMA uses the status of the local Waffle House in disaster areas to gauge how bad the damage has been. It doesn’t have anything to do with Christie’s shpiel, but there’s got to be a Christie/Waffle House joke in here somewhere.