Opinion Brief

The GOP's tough stance on tornado aid: 'Heartless'?

Eric Cantor says he won't OK aid money for Missouri tornado victims unless Democrats agree to an equal amount of spending cuts. Goodbye, "compassionate conservatism"?

In the wake of the murderous tornado in Joplin, Mo., plus other recent natural disasters, the federal government may need to replenish its disaster-relief accounts. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) says that, before his House GOP caucus would support such a funding bill, it would have to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Is this insistence on budget-slashing in the face of disaster "heartless," or is ruthlessness necessary to turn the "tide of federal spending"?

The GOP's callousness is shocking: "I don't expect much from House Republicans, but this has managed to actually surprise me," says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. When part of the country is devastated by a deadly natural disaster, federal lawmakers "are expected to put aside politics and ideology" and help, not hold the victims "ransom" to their pet causes."Cantor demands spending-cut ransom for Missouri aid"

But cutting spending is the GOP's mission: Cantor is just faithfully representing his caucus' views, says Stephen Dinan in The Washington Times. Plus, Cantor has clearly learned a key lesson from former Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas), who "stumbled" and "took flak from conservatives" for arguing that disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina should be tacked onto the deficit."Cantor learns DeLay's lesson on disaster spending"

Well, voters were warned: No one should have "reacted with horror" to Cantor's remarks, says David Dayen at Firedoglake. Republicans gave up "compassionate conservatism" as a Bush-era failure, and their renewed passion for small government essentially means "you're on your own," even in the face of disaster. So the fine folks of Joplin might have to get ready to "rebuild their homes themselves." Elections have consequences."Republican 'you're on your own' policies catching up with them"

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