The Oklahoma Way
Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn was interviewed yesterday on whether Federal tornado relief funds should be offset with cuts elsewhere in the budget. His statement drew interest because he had objected to the size of the relief package New Jersey and New York received following Hurricane Sandy. The media was looking for an “I gotcha” moment. Instead they got, if they were listening, a dose of common sense.
Coburn remained consistant on emergency relief. Natural disasters occur regularly and as such ought to be a budget item. With a central fund, the government could release necessary funds quickly without any chance for politicians to get involved. But there was more.
Senator Coburn made clear that his objection to the NJ/NY relief was in part that the legislation contained a lot of “pork”. He claimed that most of the funds would not be spent within two years. Hmmm. (Of course one man’s pork is another man’s meat and potatoes.)
The most important message, in my opinion, was the Senator’s description of Oklahomans. He said Oklahomans knew the risks and took prior steps to mitigate. He predicted that most of the residents of Moore had home insurance. Policy payoffs coupled with help from neighbors would cover most of the estimated $2 billion loss. He predicted $200 million would be all that was needed. Hmmm.
Consider. Hurricane Sandy was a surprise late season storm. Many of the costal cities had rejected recommendations for building protective ocean dunes. Hmmm. New York City had studies calling for protective dikes to guard against flooding subways and tunnels for several years. Hmmm. Yet, in the end, the Federal Government sent $50 billion to the area.
For sure there is a difference in population density between Oklahoma City and the New Jersey/New York coastal area. Never the less, Senator Coburn’s words make sense and underscore the possibility that big government bail outs breed further dependency rather than simply rehabilitate.