Unbelievably, with over 51 confirmed dead and up to 40 more fatalities expected from Tuesday’s massive tornado in Oklahoma, the Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn is unwilling to approve federal help for his own desperate constituents unless congress agrees to continue to starve the economy with more budget cuts.
Although we have come to expect just about anything from the Republican Party, seeing one of their elder statesman play politics with his own constituents during a state of emergency is a harsh reminder of just how extreme it has become.
Of course, not only do Republicans not care at all about their own constituents, they care even less about those of their peers. Sen. Coburn shamelessly voted against federal disaster relief aid for the millions of Americans affected by Hurricane Sandy, a package that was eventually passes by mostly Democratic votes.
In a December press release, Coburn complained that the Sandy Relief bill contained “wasteful spending,” and identified a series of items he objected to, including “$12.9 billion for future disaster mitigation activities and studies.”
On Monday evening Coburn’s spokesman John Hart confirmed that the senator will seek to ensure that any additional funding for tornado disaster relief in Oklahoma be offset by cuts to federal spending elsewhere in the budget. “That’s always been his position [to offset disaster aid],” Hart said. “He supported offsets to the bill funding the OKC bombing recovery effort.” Those offsets were achieved in 1995 by tapping federal funds that had not yet been appropriated.
In 2011, both senators opposed legislation that would have granted necessary funding for FEMA when the agency was set to run out of money. Sending the funds to FEMA would have been “unconscionable,” Coburn said at the time.
Hart said Coburn had “never made parochial calculations” about Oklahoma’s disproportionate share of disaster funds, “as his voting record and campaign against earmarks demonstrates.” Hart added that Coburn, “makes no apologies for voting against disaster aid bills that are often poorly conceived and used to finance priorities that have little to do with disasters.”
After President Obama declared a major federal disaster Monday and ordered federal aid to deal with the Moore, Oklahoma tornado, which devastated over 20 miles of land, Senator Coburn announced that he would be heading back to his home state to assess the damage.
It’s great that he is going to Oklahoma for a few photo-ops and press conferences, but why isn’t he willing to put America’s money where his mouth is?
The worst part about Sen. Coburn’s lack of empathy for his very own constituents is that his supposed concern for the deficit is a complete sham, considering he is a veteran member of the party that bloated our deficit and ruined our economy to begin with.
Or is it the fact that nearly all red states take in more federal aid than they contribute to federal coffers?
Sadly, it seems the Republican Party is going to continue to hold the social safety net hostage every single time there is a natural disaster and play politics with American lives instead of do what their constituents hired them to do; protect the people.
Watch President Obama Makes Make a Statement About the Tragedy: