As Congress passed $9.7 billion in storm relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy today, 67 Republicans in the House voted against the measure. Those opposed objected to the lack of offsetting cuts in other spending. But the 67, characterized as "anti-spending", have to ask to what extent they themselves played a role in creating the problem. Vast federal expenditures of this sort on storm relief, which could soon total $60 billion in extra debt spending for superstorm Sandy, were predicted long ago as a consequence of human-caused climate change. We heat the planet, oceans rise, storms become more violent, and government has bigger disaster bills. Did the 67 spend the last thirty years trying to reduce our economy's radicalizing impact on climate, or instead working to obstruct not only national efforts but a coordinated global response as well?
If anyone should be upset, it should be those, equally and perhaps more genuinely and consistently opposed to government waste, who have long decried the lack of action to wean the economy of dependence on climate-changing fossil fuels.
Now, because we're still stuck with that dependence, communities damaged by the storm will have little choice but to rebuild with the same problematic infrastructure, in areas increasingly endangered by the very climate change that many politicians have shown little interest in preventing.
Behind the facade of "anti-spending" in Washington, then, are policies that will insure increased spending now and in the future.