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The House Republicans are right ... and wrong at the same time

September 28, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Heated debate over flooding relief cooled just a few degrees early this week as Federal Emergency Management Agency funding was assessed again and found able to stand a few more days without an additional appropriation. House Republicans, as last week drew to a close, attempted to connect the additional money to cuts to a federal loan program to improve vehicle fuel-efficiency standards, in an effort to prevent adding to the debt. The effort failed to pass. On Monday, a bipartisan deal was reached to fund both disaster aid through 2012 and other expenditures through mid-November.

The Republican Caucus in the U.S. House is right to worry about the debt. The U.S. spending deficit remains unchecked, and without serious reforms a number of expenditures exhaust the budget. In light of this, the Republican condition, broadly speaking, is prudent.

But there are a lot of more sensible candidates for cuts than the program House Republicans attempted to cut. Some of the initiatives and expenditures on which the U.S. could save, and thus free up funding for disaster aid without contributing to the spending deficit and debt, have been examined at the blog during the debt-ceiling debate, from tighter standards of eligibility for Social Security, to cuts to welfare and public assistance, to moderate cuts in federal education spending. Closing some tax loopholes and write-offs or increasing fees on leasing rights for drilling, mining and grazing would also mitigate the impact of the additional spending on flooding relief.

At a time when two finite sources of energy – coal and oil – account for about 80 percent of energy consumed, dismantling elements of a strategy to diversify sources of energy and diminish its scarcity is foolish. Even as the U.S. drills for more domestic oil and natural gas – as it should – promoting the use and development of renewable fuels slows the rate of depletion of domestic oil and natural gas. And all Americans – and particularly American business interests – benefit from the U.S. economy becoming less reliant on a few, finite energy sources.


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