Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Turns out that farm subsidies aren’t the only federal program Joni Ernst won’t vote to kill if she wins that Senate race. There’s one more federal program she wants to keep.

Ernst likes FEMA and wants to keep it!  So does her father.  This even though some blue states benefit from it sometimes, too!

Go figure.

She won’t even squawk about appropriations for it.  Then again, she’s a turkey, not a chicken.  So she might cluck.

 

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APPENDED: From the Comments thread here:

EMichael / October 8, 2014 10:55 am

[T]his this cretin is in a close race despite believing that state officials should have the ability to arrest Federal workers for doing their jobs.

You can’t make this stuff up.

 

Me / October 8, 2014 11:40 am

I sooo would like to see a Braley ad featuring someone whose family now has healthcare insurance, thanks to Obamacare’s federal subsidies–who makes the point in the ad that Ernst wants Iowa officials to go to Washington and arrest the bureaucrats at the IRS or HHS who are processing those subsidies.

Or, better yet, someone who owns a construction company in Montgomery County, IA–and who lost out to Culver Construction in the FEMA-money bidding for those post-flooding construction projects–insist that state officials arrest the FEMA folks who approved the contract with Culver Construction.

See?  You can make this stuff up! 10/8 at 11:52 a.m.

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Climate change, NY State bonds, and risk

The New York Times points us to a possible first in the state government bond market. My initial reaction was to wonder about flood insurance risk assessment by state, and wether our conversation might go beyond FEMA into more real areas of risk assessment. Mostly we seem to spend our time not avoiding risk but arguing about reactions to risks taken over time.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has started to caution investors that climate change poses a long-term risk to the state’s finances. .

The warning, which is now appearing in the state’s bond offerings, comes as Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, continues to urge that public officials come to grips with the frequency of extreme weather and to declare that climate change is a reality.

A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo said he believed New York was the first state to caution investors about climate change. The caution, which cites Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, is included alongside warnings about other risks like potential cuts in federal spending, unresolved labor negotiations and litigation against the state.

But David Hitchcock, a senior director in the public finance practice at Standard & Poor’s, said climate change was not a criterion in evaluating state finances. “I have a hard time finding a direct relationship for climate change on New York State’s economy at this point,” he said, adding, “It’s not something that’s really on our radar screen right now.”

Emily Raimes, a vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, said “more disclosure is always a good thing.” But she added that most of the risk for local and state governments from powerful storms was mitigated by the presence of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which provides disaster aid to assist states and local governments.

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The Public Learns Disaster Relief Was Etched Out of the Sketch. Uh-Oh.

MITT ROMNEY: “Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”

DEBATE MODERATOR JOHN KING: Including disaster relief, though?”

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Republican primary campaign debate last year

Slate’s Matthew Yglesias points to that today andcomments:

More prosaically, though the Romney campaign was understandably circumspect over the weekend about his spending plans the fact is that his overall budget requires sharp cuts in everything. The central issue is that Romney wants to cap government spending at 20 percent of GDP while boosting military spending to 4 percent of GDP and leaving Social Security harmless. That means a 34 percent across-the-board cut in other programs according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Unless, that is, Medicare is also exempted from the cuts in which case you’d need a 53 percent cut. …

If a storm damages basic physical infrastructure (power lines, bridges) and imperils human life it would be the height of penny-wise, pound-foolish thinking to suppose that the afflicted area should wait months or years to repair the damage. Ultimately, anyplace is going to go back to robust wealth creation faster if basic stuff gets fixed up faster. But that requires financing by an entity capable of rapidly financing expensive projects—i.e., the federal government. Left to its own devices a storm-ravaged Delaware or Louisiana is going to be squeezed between balanced budget rules and falling sales tax receipts and be forced into an increasing state of dilapidation.

How about a storm-ravaged Florida?  According to current polls, slightly more than half of Florida voters want their state to take over disaster relief, at least until arrangements can be made for the private sector to take it over.

And, about that question Romney asked: What should we KEEP?  Well, in addition to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and defense spending for private contractors, what DOES Romney think we should keep?

We cannot – we cannot afford to do things like disaster relief without jeopardizing the future of our kids.  We CAN, though, afford to give massive additional tax cuts to the wealthy, and huge additional contracts to Republican defense contractors, without jeopardizing the future of our kids.  Right?

What’s truly unconscionable is that it’s taking Hurricane Sandy to educate the public about the plans Romney and Ryan have stated so clearly.  I’ve been utterly unable to understand why the Obama campaign hasn’t been running video clips of Romney’s primary-campaign statements as the foundation of their ads.  I’ve thought all along that this is all Obama would need to do in order to win.  I think Sandy will prove me right.

And, here’s a shout-out to New York Time columnist Bill Keller for exposing for the absurd myth that it is the punditry’s “in” refrain that we don’t know what either of the two candidates would use the office to do in the next four years, because, well, neither has specified sufficiently.  As Keller says, actually both have specified sufficiently. 

And Romney’s already begun to reverse-sketch his etchings.  Suffice it to say that he’s not spent the last week promising “BIG CHANGE” because he plans to etch out of his sketch all those primary-campaign promises. 

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Disaster Aid Disaster Averted, barely

By Linda Beale

Disaster Aid Disaster Averted, barely.

Once again, Republicans intent on obstructing the normal operation of the federal government unless they can extract cuts to programs they don’t like (in the name of deficit reduction) applied the combination of House recalcitrance and Senate anti-majoritarian filibuster to threaten a government shutdown and siderail needed funding for emergency assistance to ordinary Americans until they could get at least some of their objectives. A compromise that will get money to FEMA and keep the government funded for a spell has been reached.

(AP video at ataxingmatter, see link…I am still mostly missing my internet connections)

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Federal emergency Aid and no borrowing of funds for relief efforts



If these words translate to actions in the Congress on emergency aid, I believe it is a significant departure from past policies. And Virginia, Cantor’s home state, is predicted to be impacted. We will know soon enough if political capital is spent on this idea.

A spokesperson for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that if there is any damage caused by Hurricane Irene requiring federal disaster funding, the money would have to be balanced out by spending cuts elsewhere in government.

“We aren’t going to speculate on damage before it happens, period,” his spokesperson Laena Fallon told TalkingPointsMemo. “But, as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”

Read more at Business insider

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