What To Do About Sandy?

Governors Cuomo and Christie have tallied the estimates of how much money it will take to restore their towns and shorelines following Sandy’s devastation.  It’s huge.  Almost $80 billion is the latest estimate and each governor wants the Federal Government to cover this cost.  Hmmm.

For most of the victims whose homes or businesses were destroyed, it is a lot to expect for them to go to their savings accounts and pay for repairs or rebuilding.  And it is a lot to expect that cities and towns could afford to replace infrastructure that had been built up over many years from current operating funds.  And one would expect there was insurance coverage on much of what was destroyed but certainly not complete coverage.  So, should the Federal Government pay?

In terms of our current $1 trillion deficit, $80 billion is about 8% and less than 3% of the total Federal expenditures.  How should the government offset this $80 billion?  More taxes?  More cuts to other programs like Medicare?

And should the Federal help come with, or without strings?  Should residents be allowed to rebuild in ways that are just as susceptible to the next big storm?  And if not, who should decide?

I have not seen any proposals but it is clear that from a political eye, both Christie and Cuomo want a lot of credit which would flow from generous federal grants.  I would not begrudge either because I think they have performed well up to now.  Rather this is a question about the role of government.

Since 2001, US citizens have been content to allow government run deficit budgets while granting tax reductions and refusing to take action on known underfunding of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  In 2010, the GOP, lead by the Tea Party, took control of Congress on the mantel that government was too big.  What does that mean when we consider Sandy’s damage?

Since the government has not balance its books (and seems not to care), shouldn’t citizens expect the government to simply borrow more and help.  Or, is it that government is already too big and New York and New Jersey are on their own?

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