As expected, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is set to demand spending cuts in exchange for disaster relief. The surprise is that he wants to cut the budget for training and equipping first responders by 40%.
Politico reported that Cantor is going to demand more “spending offsets” in exchange for disaster relief,
But a spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) signaled late Friday that the GOP is likely to insist on offsets for the $500 million in emergency funds Obama requested for 2011, while dealing with the 2012 funds under a new set of rules agreed to as part of the August debt accord.
“The House has passed $1 billion in disaster relief funds that is fully offset, which we will look to move as quickly as possible,” she said. “There will be no delay in meeting the president’s request and providing people the aid they need.”
Think Progress noted that cuts that Cantor is eyeing come in the form of additional slashes to the Homeland Security budget for training and equipping first responders. Cantor wants an additional 40% cut, on top of the 19% hit that the first responder budget already took this year. Rep. Cantor wants to make sure that in the event of a disaster or terrorist attack America has fewer first responders, and that the remaining first responders do not have the equipment that they need.
The hypocrisy is that Cantor and his fellow Republicans never demanded spending offsets during the Bush administration. In 2004, George W. Bush pushed for a 10% increase in the Homeland Security budget, and as a member of the House majority, Eric Cantor did not oppose the additional funding. In 2003, Cantor supported an additional $78 billion in “emergency” war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan with no spending offsets required.
Eric Cantor never asked for dollar for dollar cuts to pay for the Homeland Security budget and two wars, but yet he is demanding dollar for dollar spending cuts for disaster relief and FEMA. The fact that he is cutting first responders demonstrates that these cuts aren’t about spending.
This isn’t even about small government. In the past many of the slashes to the budget for training first responders were in the form of grants to state and local governments to train first responders. Ideologically, Cantor’s position is that there should be no federal involvement in disaster relief and first responders, but what he looking to slash are programs that benefit state and local preparedness.
Majority Leader Cantor and his office don’t want the American people to know that they are eyeing up gutting the funding for training and equipping first responders. This is why they publicly will only refer to the cuts as spending offsets. They don’t want to tell the American people that spending offsets is really code for slashing the budget for training and equipping first responders.
Republicans talk a good game about protecting the American people, but when it comes to actually following through, the Cantor and the GOP slip back into their de facto motto of Politics First.