MSNBC’s O’Donnell: Republicans Have Opposed Hurricane Funding Because That’s Who They Are

Avowed socialist and liberal MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell insinuated on Monday’s The Last Word that Republicans are heartless on hurricane recovery funding due to simply who they are as people as exhibited by opposing Hurricane Sandy funding bill.

With help from ex-Al Gore flack Ron Klain, the duo promoted their prediction that President Trump will fail in responding to Hurricane Harvey and maintaining a sufficient focus on the recovery efforts.

 

 

“Funding for hurricane recovery has everything to do with a government shutdown. It has everything to do with everything. Paul Ryan and other Republicans already said they weren’t going to have a government shutdown over Donald Trump’s border wall, and now a government shutdown would mean instantly cutting off aid to those people in Texas who the President claims to sympathize with,” O’Donnell began about 11 minutes into the show.

Of course, that was only the beginning as O’Donnell lamented that “the funding for hurricane recovery probably will not go very quickly or very smoothly” and it will be those soulless Republicans who will be to blame:

Most of the Texas congressional delegation, including both Texas Republican senators voted against aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. They did that for two reasons. First, they are Republicans, and second, the victims were not in Texas. The victims of Hurricane Sandy were primarily in New Jersey and New York, and now the congressional delegation that voted against aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy will be asking Congress for what, $70 billion or $100 billion more for the victims of Hurricane Harvey?

Less than 10 minutes later, O’Donnell teed up Klain by digging back into the past to attack Republicans seeing as how the left can never let things go. 

Put simply, destroying the right is their religion, as exhibited by this hit on Vice President Pence:

And Ron, in the past, hurricane funding has taken sometimes several months for Congress to act on. It didn’t used to be that way, but starting around 2005, there were some Republicans led by Mike Pence in the House of Representatives who started to say, look, if you’re going to do disaster funding like this, you must make other cuts in the budget to make up for whatever money you’re spending in disaster funding. Prior to that, it used to be understood to be an emergency and something that the government was just going to have to spring into action on without cutting other spending.

Klain emphasized how America “is a great country, and people in this country and that crosses party lines and it crosses regional lines” before going off on a tangent to make a political point, which is something his old boss certainly knows a thing or two about (see: his entire post-White House career). 

“But a few years ago, the Republicans decided to politicize that. And Mike Pence said we should cut Medicare, cut old senior citizens’ healthcare and poor people’s healthcare through Medicaid to pay for disaster relief, a ridiculous position and now he’s our Vice President. We’re going to see what he recommends,” Klain argued.

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Instead of wishing Trump the best, stating that the administration has done a good job, and wishing them the best going forward, Klain predicted that Trump will fail:

I think the key thing here is, I think Donald Trump will pass the bar of tweeting about the storm and flying on Air Force One, but this is going to take weeks and months and years, long after his Twitter feed has moved on and the test of Presidential leadership in this kind of situation is, does he have the focus, the consistent focus to oversee and drive this recovery to its end? And I think that’s where President Trump sadly will fail the test of leadership on Hurricane Harvey.

Imagine what Klain would be saying in reaction if the roles were reversed with Hillary Clinton as president while a conservative commentator stated their hope she fails.

Folks like these two can try and argue that it was indefensible to oppose Sandy funding. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler thrashed Republican Senator Ted Cruz (Tex.) for a claim about the bill having had little to do with Sandy, they at least acknowledged some of the waste:

The bill did wrap in some other 2012 disaster funding, including disasters that had been declared over Alaska Chinook salmon, New England groundfish, Mississippi fisheries and American Samoa bottomfish. Those are the fisheries that the Cornyn spokesman referenced — but they were disaster declarations. So one would think it would make sense to include relief in a disaster bill.

(....)

This being Congress, one of course can find some eyebrow-raising provisions. In particular, there was $16 billion for the account that funds Community Development Block Grants, which were aimed at Sandy relief but also could be used for eligible disaster events in calendar years 2011, 2012 and 2013. So the main focus was Sandy, but the money could be moved to assist other disaster relief efforts over a three-year period.

The good people with Citizens Against Government Waste published a January 2013 story about the bill being a boondoggle while Heritage Foundation noted how the Sandy bill had numerous problems (see here and here). 

Heritage also wrote in August 2009 how federal relief for Hurricane Katrina ended up being used for salacious purposes:

Fraud related to Hurricane Katrina spending is estimated to top $2 billion. In addition, debit cards provided to hurricane victims were used to pay for Caribbean vacations, NFL tickets, Dom Perignon champagne, "Girls Gone Wild" videos, and at least one sex change operation.

If you’re trying to pass legislation about urban infrastructure, a lawmaker might have reason to pause if it includes millions for cattle ranchers in a random Midwestern state. Nonetheless, Kessler somehow found a way to defend it as being par for the course with Congress and that even things unrelated to Sandy were “still...related to disaster relief.” 

Give me a break.

Monday's trashing of Republicans was brought to you by The Last Word advertisers like T.D. Ameritrade and Subaru.

Here’s the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell on August 28:

MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell
August 28, 2017
10:11 p.m. Eastern

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Funding for hurricane recovery has everything to do with a government shutdown. It has everything to do with everything. Paul Ryan and other Republicans already said they weren’t going to have a government shutdown over Donald Trump’s border wall, and now a government shutdown would mean instantly cutting off aid to those people in Texas who the President claims to sympathize with. The possibility of a government shutdown now is less than zero. The President’s staff will be explaining that to him if they haven’t already, and the funding for hurricane recovery probably will not go very quickly or very smoothly. Most of the Texas congressional delegation, including both Texas Republican senators voted against aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. They did that for two reasons. First, they are Republicans, and second, the victims were not in Texas. The victims of Hurricane Sandy were primarily in New Jersey and New York, and now the congressional delegation that voted against aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy will be asking Congress for what, $70 billion or $100 billion more for the victims of Hurricane Harvey?

Paul Ryan knows that he needs to round up votes to raise the debt ceiling and to pass a budget. And so Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell might just decide to put all of those things together in one bill, which means it won’t be quick and a new budget for all of the government, all of the government departments, a raise in the debt ceiling, and special funding for Hurricane Harvey relief, all of that in one piece of legislation. If Ryan and McConnell put all those things together in one bill, then Senators like Ted Cruz would be forced to vote for that bill to get the Hurricane Harvey relief money that they want. Otherwise, it might be impossible to get Senators like Ted Cruz to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling or to vote for the budget bill that the Republicans are going to have to pass and that they’re going to have to develop in a compromise with Democrats.

(....)

10:18 p.m. Eastern

O’DONNELL: And Ron, in the past, hurricane funding has taken sometimes several months for Congress to act on. It didn’t used to be that way, but starting around 2005, there were some Republicans led by Mike Pence in the House of Representatives —

KLAIN: Yes —

O’DONNELL: — who started to say, look, if you’re going to do disaster funding like this, you must make other cuts in the budget to make up for whatever money you’re spending in disaster funding. Prior to that, it used to be understood to be an emergency and something that the government was just going to have to spring into action on without cutting other spending.

KLAIN: Yes, Lawrence, this is a great country, and people in this country want to help one another. And that crosses party lines and it crosses regional lines, but a few years ago, the Republicans decided to politicize that. And Mike Pence said we should cut Medicare, cut old senior citizens’ healthcare and poor people’s healthcare through Medicaid to pay for disaster relief, a ridiculous position and now he’s our Vice President. We’re going to see what he recommends. I think the key thing here is, I think Donald Trump will pass the bar of tweeting about the storm and flying on Air Force One, but this is going to take weeks and months and years, long after his Twitter feed has moved on and the test of Presidential leadership in this kind of situation is, does he have the focus, the consistent focus to oversee and drive this recovery to its end? And I think that’s where President Trump sadly will fail the test of leadership on Hurricane Harvey.

NBDaily Congress Hurricanes Hurricanes Harvey and Irma Hurricane Sandy Double Standards Conservatives & Republicans Heritage Foundation Liberals & Democrats MSNBC The Last Word Washington Post Video Government & Press Lawrence O'Donnell Glenn Kessler Donald Trump Mike Pence
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