In a previous blog post, I discussed the Tea Party Republicans turning disaster aid into a political game. Which led to the drama in Congress over FEMA funding, as well as keeping the government operating after the end of the month. Finally, a bill has been passed by the Senate which means that hopefully there will be money for fixing up the damage. Having listened to their posturing, along with any number of comments by their favored governors about how wasteful this is, unnecessary, etc., and talking about “self-reliance,” I’ve been thinking about something. On several other blogs, I’ve made some comments about letting the Tea Party Republicans have a chance in their states to live by their “principles.” Yes, we should let them see it in action.
What I propose is that we let them get out of all those “horrible” federal requirements – and save money – by allowing them to opt out of them. That is, you don’t have to worry about disaster preparedness requirements, and you’ll get the opportunity to demonstrate just how unnecessary FEMA and other government disaster programs are. You won’t get the money, but you don’t have to do the work, either.
The way I see it working is that the state legislature must pass an opt out resolution. Each member voting for it must put their name on it. The governor must approve it, and put his or her name down on it. Then the majority of the state’s Congressional delegation must sign off on it. Once that’s done, that’s it. No federal disaster preparedness requirements or money, no FEMA aid in case of disaster. No federal flood insurance, or federal crop insurance. Private insurance companies would have to provide that. Just what they’re saying they want, and it would cut the federal budget.
Just to be even nastier, they can’t get out of it easily. They pass this, they have to live with it for at least one state election period. No “well, OK, we’ll let you off the hook” deals. To get back on, they have to pass another resolution with exactly the same requirements it took to get them off of it, and they can’t change their minds again … ever.
Honestly? I don’t think any state would ever do it. But it’d be interesting to watch if they did, particularly if a disaster struck. Which is statistically certain in most of the states with a strong “conservative” state government. I even have a name for the program, based on what we can say when that disaster does strike: Wow, it really sucks to be you!
I’m also of the same mind when I see various Republicans pontificating on removing environmental regulations, particularly, coal ash. Yes, those regulations, according to the coal-fired electric industry, are “burdensome.” So, the House voted to let states “regulate” it. Which of course, means that the states will do as little as possible or just look the other way. OK, they want that? Fine. No, really. But here’s the deal. It can’t ever leave the state it was created in. You see, moving it between states makes it federal. So, it has to stay right there, or the states have to accept stringent federal regulations. Even more, if they make the decision to “regulate on their own,” then there will never be any federal money to clean up the mess – and there will be one. That is going to fall on the local and state taxpayers, not the rest of the country. Hey, they made the deal, they have to live with it!
That’s been the problem with these politicians. They’re perfectly willing to jump on a soapbox about things, or propose something, knowing full well that they won’t have to really deal with the consequences of their policies. I saw that in aftermath of Hurricane Irene, where many Tea Party supporters and their favored elected officials suddenly jumped to screaming for federal help once the scope of the disaster sunk in. None of them were saying “No, no federal help wanted, thanks, but we’ll take care of it on our own.” So I want them to have consequences for their choices. Will I feel sorry for all the people who live there, many of whom didn’t vote for them? Yes, I will, but you know what? That’s why elections are important. It’s not just the politicians who need to remember that.