Rare Praise For Roy Blunt

From stltoday.com:

WASHINGTON • Sen. Roy Blunt said this morning he believes damage from the Joplin tornado could reach $3 billion. He wants the federal government to assume a bigger share of cleanup costs than usual.

You’ll note he said nothing about “offsets” in the budget or any other such nonsense lately on the lips of House Republicans.  This response by Blunt is exactly what I would have expected from Rep. Billy Long, when I asked him about Eric Cantor’s budget offsets-or-else-no-money-for-Joplin comments .

On this issue, even if only on this issue, Roy Blunt gets it and he’s not about to play politics with federal funds for our devastated city. Not only would that be the wrong thing to do, it could change the politics in this part of the country. 

I give Roy Blunt rare kudos for his statement on federal help.

He also exhibited reasonableness regarding the timing of President Obama’s visit to Joplin:

Responding to a question, Blunt said he believed that President Barack Obama’s scheduled visit Joplin on Sunday after a trip to Europe was soon enough.

“I don’t think the president could have been particularly helpful” coming earlier, he said. “I have plenty of things to disagree with the president on; this doesn’t happen to be one of them.”

Obviously, Blunt’s reaction to events here is what all of us were eager to hear. And his comments transcend politics, as they should. 

Again, kudos to him.

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22 Comments

  1. I agree with Duane’s post on this.

    And something else occurs to me. Katrina was an example of a natural disaster where almost everything went wrong with federal and state aid. Now here is a new opportunity to get it right with an iconic middle-American mid-size city. Let’s hope the state and federal governments see the opportunity.

    Jim

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  2. Duane,

    Roy Blunt has been in politics a long time. It is a ‘no-brainer’ to solicit as many federal dollars as possible for disaster relief. The scale of the destruction demands nothing less.

    You were right to criticize Long for his behavior. Whether he sees you as a political enemy or not, his avoidance speaks volumes. Since Cantor tried to tie relief monies in with budget spending cuts, it was valid to ask if he agreed with the Majority Leader’s odious politicization of such natural violence against Joplin. Again, it’s a ‘no-brainer.’ His new career will be short-lived if he doesn’t understand that.

    Like

  3. Yeah, Blunt did good on this. It’s only common decency to stay out of the way and not politicize this thing (the way Long did).
    Thank God Blunt has better sense than Round….um, I mean LONG.
    OOPS…Freudian slip thingy there.

    Like

  4. BTW, just saw that Memphis was expecting up to 90% recovery cost from the feds….why not Joplin? It’s going to happy despite Billy Round, I mean Billy Long.

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  5. Angelfire

     /  May 27, 2011

    Kudos Duane? Really?

    You think he WANTED to spend 3 Billion on clean up? No way. He did what that snake ALWAYS does when someone corners him. He gave in. He knew the local bloggers were watching him (and Billy Long) on this one and he caved and rightly so.

    You and Jim over at busplunge.com made all the difference in the world. Someone posted your blogs all over the freaking internet and I guarantee it got some attention. ‘Specially when it went onto Fox’s website. Hmmmm.. me thinks Blunt (snake) got the message and—presto—chango—- quickly acted human again.

    Kudos to you maybe but definitely NOT Roy Blunt. C’mon.

    Like

    • Angelfire,

      No one has greater disagreements with Roy Blunt than I do, but in this case I have heard him say all the right things. I just heard him on MSNBC about fifteen minutes ago and I didn’t hear him say one thing I disagreed with. Now, that doesn’t mean that going forward through what appears now will be a political fight that I won’t hurl criticisms his way, but as far as everything I’ve heard him say and do up to this point, I can’t complain.

      I don’t want to be a partisan for partisan’s sake only. When even the political opposition does something right for folks around here, I am going to point it out. That doesn’t mean I would ever vote for the man, since we differ so much otherwise. But when Obama does the right thing we expect the opposition to acknowledge it, and I want to be consistent here.

      Duane

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  May 27, 2011

    To all,

    Why is it that after a disaster EVERYONE immediately seeks federal financial assistance?

    Given the intial figure of $3 Billion in total damaget, the first question to be asked is how many of those homes and/or business were properly insured. My home is insured for the maximum replacement value, a figure calculated by the insurance company. My contents are insured for 50% of that value.

    So with a total loss I would receive a check for $X plus 50% of $X. With that I could rebuild on the exisiting lot and refurnish my home as well. Would I have exactly what I had lost. No way but it would be reasonably close and I would consider such a “fair deal”.

    My step son lost his medical office complete with expensive equipment but more importantly most of his records for the last 18 years. He did not own the office. He is insured up to a maximum value dependent upon his keepin his lists of equipment, etc. up to date. If he had purchased a $1 Million “machince” and failed to update his policy the burden is on him.

    But his policy includes, as it does with most businesses, business interruption coverage. The keeps his own income reasonably sound during the hiatus of not practicing and also keeps his payroll to his four office employees going. Again, prudent and not that expensive private insurance coverage and he will come out reasonably whole after all is said and done.

    Any prudent homeowner or business owner will or certainly should have such coverage. Failure to do so for whatever reason is just stupid. Same for renters. If they do not have renters insurance then…… when tornados hit.

    Now let’s take just the prudent home or business owner that paid attention to insurance needs and “lost everything”. Why I ask should the federal government make up for any differences between actual loss and what insurance will cover. I see NO REASON to expect a federal bailout for such circumstances.

    Now if the insurance company does not “pay up” in a total loss of course government (laws) should protect the insured. That becomes a matter for courts to adjudicate at some point or for prosecution of the insurance company. When that happens I can see some federal or state assistance to the insured that was wronged by bad insurance companies. But my sense is that such circumstances rarely arise at least with reputable and nation wide insurance companies.

    But if a renter, homeowner or business tried to save premium costs and did business with a poorly rated or unknown insurance company, I see little reason for the federal government to provide a bailout beyond prosecution and some small assistance to the insured.

    My guess is 90% of the homeowners, renters and businesses in Joplin will be paid as per contracts by private insurance in this disaster. That % is simply a guess however. But every single family and business with whom I am acquainted falls into the above category. No one likes to pay insurance premiums but they do so as a matter of living in today’s world, at least the prudent ones.

    So what about the “poor” or really the people trying to “shave” off insurance premiums or not even purchase insurance. Such people for sure are rolling the dice that a catastrophe will not happen.

    And I bet those same people are the ones with no health care insurance. And all of those folks are not “poor”. They simply are dumb enough to roll the dice. They are in a sense “gamblers”. Fine let them gamble.

    But when they lose their “bets” why I ask should the federal government almost automatically bail them out? What about the “slum lord” that uninsured his “slum” homes. Maybe the federal government should help the really “poor” living in such homes, but the owner of those homes, no way in my view. In many cases he, the slum lord is the same jerk that will not keep the property in good repair and the “poor” have no hot water for example during normal times.

    So before FEMA starts writing big checks it MUST look carefully at the individual circumstances for federal assistance. And there is all your red tape or a lot of it.

    Why should refugees IMMEDIATELY apply to FEMA without first being compensated by their own insurance company? They should NOT be so compensated in my view.

    And there are more than enough shelters, food and clothing for EVERYONE right now to sustain a subsistence level for all in Joplin. For sure NO ONE should be left on the streets as we recover and as far as I can tell there is plenty or room, board and shelter for those needing such, even the “rich” if they have no friends to help them out.

    So before all you liberals scream for $3 Billion from the federal government up front and NOW, count the number of empty beds in your own home before you start screaming.

    Where I live I see a lot of “zombies” right now living with friends or relatives. But NONE of them are screaming for FEMA to bail them out, yet, and I doubt that they ever will do so. I wouldn’t if I had lost my home or business, but I would be all over my insurance company if they tried to declare my home NOT a total loss if one wall was still standing!

    Given such circumstances I would go straight to the insurance commission for restitution and probably be seeking a lawyer for help as well. But it is too soon to see if that is indeed happening on a widespread basis and I doubt that such is the case, yet.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      Of course any aid coming would be based on insurance, etc. No one is asking for people who have received insurance money to get even more on top of that. But for the uninsured and the underinsured, that’s different. Help must come, if only for the good of the community.

      And reimbursing costs for law enforcement and clean-up efforts and so on is absolutely necessary for our community. Do you think there is money in our local budgets for that? Huh?

      You know, I’m not going to argue with you and your “gambling” scenario. I just don’t have the mental energy right now. But there will eventually be moneys provided, including loans to restart businesses and so on that will put people back to work. That’s for the good of the entire community, Anson, not just for a few “gamblers.”

      Duane

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      • Seems to me, Duane, that Anson has a point about the under-insured and the not-insured in this case. For cars and trucks of course liability insurance is required by law, but even there, some flout the law and don’t even have that. Therefore, his point: a prudent person would have insurance and if one doesn’t, then I think federal or state aid should be limited to the purely humanitarian aspects of the disaster (temporary food, clothing, shelter, civil order), not for subsidizing what is essentially a selfish decision. If that sort of thing IS subsidized, wouldn’t that be a disincentive for self-insuring?

        Hmm. I wonder if some minimum level of insurance should be mandated on houses and business, just as we do the auto liability issue? For homeowners I would be against it because it would result in more bureaucracy and red tape, a.k.a,, bigger government. But it might make sense for businesses. It could be made a prerequisite for a business license. (Heck, for all I know, it is already. Does anyone know?)

        Jim

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        • Jim,

          You know, I was just talking to someone about the very issue of the uninsured. Sure, it’s unwise to go without insurance, for your car or for your house or for your belongings. But people make that choice for a number of reasons, not just selfishness. Is it selfish to go without renter’s insurance in order to have money to buy, say, electricity? Or food?

          Poor people have poor ways sometimes, Jim. I think it is wrongheaded to put everyone in the same box and say because you didn’t have insurance on your stuff, well, too bad for you because that was a selfish act. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t. I’m not prepared to judge unless I know the specific circumstances. But even if it were an act of selfishness, do you think that most people would think to themselves in the future: Look, I’m not going to purchase insurance because the last time an F-5 tornado came through the government gave “so and so” money to purchase a little clothing and some furniture and so on? I don’t think most people think that way. “So and so” will no doubt continue to be irresponsible, if that’s what it was, but I don’t think that would have an effect on those who are normally responsible.

          And for the record, I don’t have the slightest problem with mandating that people have insurance, since we have evolved to the point where natural disasters like the one in Joplin are considered “national” disasters. I don’t know how it could be enforced, since people still manage to avoid getting car insurance, but I’m not against it in principle.

          Duane

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    • good grief

       /  May 27, 2011

      Anson, just in case anyone is foolish enough to have tried to wade through your response, they should have just skipped to the essence of what you wrote:
      “So what about the “poor” or really the people trying to “shave” off insurance premiums or not even purchase insurance. Such people for sure are rolling the dice that a catastrophe will not happen.

      And I bet those same people are the ones with no health care insurance. And all of those folks are not “poor”. They simply are dumb enough to roll the dice.”
      Good grief, Anson. This reveals a lot about you.

      Like

  7. Angelfire

     /  May 27, 2011

    You know, I watch as the Republicans politicize every event. My president cannot take a long planned trip to Europe to meet with dignitaries (a trip I’m sure took much coordination and planning for not only our President but for all the others he’s met with) without the name calling from the Right because he’s not on the ground with a shovel helping Joplin. Did you see Bush on the ground with a shovel in Katrina?

    Duane, how come we get called out at the Republican’s whim—they sure don’t hesitate to politicize even the smallest of events. Talk radio daily calls him un-American, communist, socialist, and of course as they like to say, “he hates America”. It seems if we Democrats politicize something IMMEDIATELY we are the bad guys. I don’t think so.

    Everything is political. Everything. I don’t see a thing wrong with calling it like it is.

    The big majority of Jasper area is conservative. They voted the numskull Long into office. He votes to cut FEMA funds (amongst other emergency funding) at just the time Joplin gets hit by the mother of all tornadoes and is literally ripped from it’s mooring. Loss of life and property are unmeasurable. Sorrow is everywhere.

    These are the people who ELECT the representatives who would cut funding for others without so much as a glance over their shoulders let alone a care for others effected —- all in the interest of money. The Long’s and the Blunt’s are their hero’s. AS LONG AS their cuttin’ money from SOMEONE ELSE…..not Joplin you see.

    Roy did what he had to do. Not what he wanted and not in keeping with his voting record. It’s a whole different story when it’s his district blown away….

    Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  May 28, 2011

    To all,

    I have now posted a blog rebutting the almost automatic call for federal aid following the storm. The blog expands to a degree on the above comment from me.

    I have also commented on Jim’s blog about federal assistance or bailouts.

    And even Duane acknowledges, it seems, the need for first going to private insurance for replacement costs, etc. That should take care of a substantial number, probably the vast majority of homeowners and businesses, at least the prudent and responsible ones.

    So then we have the “others”.

    I break “them” down into the really poor first of all. Basics are needed with all possible speed and humanity. No holds barred. Provide the basics NOW. And in my view that is happening all over the place in Joplin right now. Any arguments on that point?

    But there are some, the % I have no idea, that have now lost everything and no way to replace anything because of BAD CHOICES previously made. For reasons related primarily to GREED, they chose to “gamble” by no paying for the prudent insurance needs demanded in today’s society. Jim’s point on auto insurance is a great example. Collision and Comprehensive coverage on an automobile is part of the cost of owning an automobile. But many try to shirk that cost, not because they do not have the money but because they choose to spend the money on other things.

    Now along those lines consider how we will rebuild just our schools. Go to Jim’s blog and read my comments in that regard.

    The automatic reaction to look to the federal government for any and all needs in disasters is dead wrong in my view given the economic realities of today. Like it or not times, economic times have changed rather dramatically based simply on America’s ability to produce the goods and services demanded from society.

    Want more federal aid? The answer to me is not to print the money to do so but to produce, as a country, the goods and services needed to sustain the size of government demanded.

    But no, liberals neglect the production side of the equation. Just raise taxes and all will be well liberals seem to say. Well taxing a dry well, or a well now located “overseas” or in tax havens won’t work either.

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      I don’t know why I think a response to you will change a thing, but I’m incorrigibly optimistic, I suppose. Or I just can’t stand to let the ridiculous things you said stand without challenge.

      First, you don’t seem to understand that the money Blunt was talking about is reimbursement for local government expenses, not bailing out Greedy Joe who didn’t buy insurance. Do you think the Joplin city budget has money in it for this disaster? Should we fire all the employees, cops, and firefighters, when the cleanup is over because there is no money left? What are you talking about? Have you been sipping from the same poison trough as your Berlin-brother, Geoff Caldwell?

      In any case, on your sometimes-inane blog post you wrote:

      Gimmie, gimmie gimmie from the left, no matter the real need or justification.

      Maybe you consider Roy Blunt a lefty, I don’t know. But if you do, that only shows how far down the sewer is your political analysis in this case, right down in the sewer with Geoff. There is a “real need” and there is “justification,” whether your ideologically-blinded eyes can see it or not.

      And I was particularly dismayed at this little statement you wrote:

      So take a flying leap you liberal cry babies.

      Wow. You have been drinking from the same trough as Caldwell. That kind of high-level prose is something I would expect to find on his political blog, were I ever to read it. At one point you even used his favorite word, “ilk.” Good for you. You two make a good couple, the Ilk Brothers.

      Duane

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  9. @ Duane, re your 5/28, 10:00am comment,

    You said,
    “Poor people have poor ways sometimes, Jim. I think it is wrongheaded to put everyone in the same box and say because you didn’t have insurance on your stuff, well, too bad for you because that was a selfish act. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t.”

    Sure, I get that, but the point of the discussion of course is the degree to which society should be obligated to bail out misfortune or poor judgement. I submit that this is exactly the kind of quantitative judgement that is at the heart of most conservative v. liberal disagreements these days. While I empathize with the plight of the poor who have bad judgement, but what about the poor who work hard to do it right? I know some of them.

    We discussed here the idea of mandating homeowners’ insurance and it occurs to me that it is the same kind of issue as mandating healthcare in the ACA, i.e., “forcing” people to be financially responsible. Isn’t that interesting? I think the Supreme Court is going to tell us what they think about that issue, and the ramifications are mind-boggling, are they not?

    Regardless of what the Supremes say, I am convinced that for a capitalistic society to function efficiently there must always be some significant dynamic tension to motivate hard work, inspire determination, and provide goals. You can’t climb Maslow’s hierarchy without such.

    “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.”
    — Wiliam Blake, The Argument

    Jim

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    • Jim,

      I won’t argue with you that people sometimes have poor judgment and thus should reap the consequences of their actions. But who gets to decide who has poor judgment in this case? Just how do you determine that? Inquisitions?

      It seems to be that in a just civilization, all segments of society should play by your and Anson’s rules. The problem is, as we saw with the financial crisis, that there are two sets of rules, Jim. If you are so woven into the economic fabric that your poor judgment can cause havoc to the entire system, you get bailed out. And we’re not talking about a few thousand bucks to replace clothing or furniture or maybe a car here in Joplin.

      Billions upon billions of dollars were provided to financial institutions that failed us but nevertheless are prospering today because of their position, because they operate under a different set of rules. Thousands of Wall Street bankers and banker-types are living the good life today—thanks to the taxpayers—despite their poor choices. And yet a guy in Joplin who didn’t have insurance on his household goods is the object of derision by some (not you). Some think that these folks are making away with the bank simply because they may get a few thousand bucks from FEMA.

      I can’t stand by and watch our society provide the financial industry with a cushion against any risk and then turn away someone who may—may—have made a bad personal decision that a tornado revealed, purely because there is an ideological point to be made.

      I’m just not built that way, my friend.

      And you might say that two wrong bailouts don’t make a right one. But the moneyed interests will always—and I mean always—be plugged in to the system in such a way that they don’t pay much of a price for their bad judgments. Thus, I don’t have a problem with helping folks on an infinitely smaller scale, who also made bad judgments—even assuming they were bad judgments.

      If we’re going to socialize the risk for one, we should do it for all.

      Duane

      Like

  10. I don’t think Duane and I are all that far apart on this. I am not against aid by FEMA or other agencies or charities for disaster victims. What I meant, and maybe I wasn’t clear, was whether the FULL amount of the damages be paid in the case of the uninsured. In my opinion, the bailout should be more than adequate for immediate needs, but short of what would have been received from insurance. To repeat, the heart of the matter is the “quantitative judgement”.

    The poet Robert Burns said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” .

    Now, having said that, Duane’s reminder about the bailout of the big Wall Street banks hit home with me. When I searched for whether the banks even paid the money back, the answer seems to be, “mostly, but with a lot of manipulation”. It really sticks in my craw that the banks parlayed the bailouts into huge salary and bonus payouts for executives. That is disgusting greed on a grand scale.

    The banks’ behavior is unacceptable, but given the state of the nation’s budget crisis I don’t see it as an excuse for free money for everyone. Let’s fix the bank problem, not open the vaults to more.

    The TARP bailouts were justified on the basis of the entire economy and thousands of jobs, a pragmatic action, but I see zero excuse for both administrations not ensuring that the big firms would be on the hook for every dime given them. Plus interest. To his credit, Obama tried to put limits on compensation, but appears to have been outfoxed by the experts. See this link (see esp., “Controversies”)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Asset_Relief_Program#Controversies

    Jim

    Like

    • Jim,

      Thanks for that link. Here is the disturbing opening paragraph:

      The effects of the TARP have been widely debated in large part because the purpose of the fund is not easily understood. For example, a review of investor presentations and conference calls by executives of some two dozen US-based banks by the New York Times found that “few [banks] cited lending as a priority. Further, an overwhelming majority saw the program as a no-strings-attached windfall that could be used to pay down debt, acquire other businesses or invest for the future.”[65] The article cited several bank chairmen as stating that they viewed the money as available for strategic acquisitions in the future rather than to increase lending to the private sector, whose ability to pay back the loans was suspect. PlainsCapital chairman Alan B. White saw the Bush administration’s cash infusion “opportunity capital”, noting, “They didn’t tell me I had to do anything particular with it.” Nonetheless, it achieved its primary purpose of providing liquidity in response to the global financial crisis of 2008–2009.

      Since the “primary purpose” was achieved, most politicians want to move on. But it came at a price, not just in terms of the dollars the taxpayer put at risk and infused into the system (most of which seems to have been repaid, but who knows, as you suggest), but also in a damaging perception that, as I said, there are two sets of rules, one for the money guys and one for the rest of us, and some politicians are unwilling to do anything about it. Those politicians, by the way, are largely, but not exclusively, Republicans.

      Thanks again for the link.

      Duane

      Like

  11. ansonburlingame

     /  May 29, 2011

    To all,

    None of us are that far apart in my view. EVERYONE in Joplin needs help today or at least the 30%

    But I am coming at the problem from the opposite direction of liberals.

    Liberals call, it seems to me, for FEMA and other government agencies to open their wallets wide and fund whatever is needed NOW. We have routinely done so in past disassters and why should Joplin be any different, right?

    My view is that such an approach must change, dramatically, nationwide. And who better to suggest the change other than the victims of disaster?

    I for sure do not suggest withholdin food, clothing and shelter. I believe government must pay for clearing the wreckage, everywhere as well. Government paid workers and bull dozers for example to clear EVERYTHING destroyed.

    Government should rapidly rebuild our schools, pay for augmentation or our fire and police forces, Empire’s cost to restore power, govenment restoration of water and gas supplies, etc. In other words government pays for setting the stage to quickly rebuild.

    Now how should government find the money to do that. It should NOT ultimately come from deficit spending, again ultimately. Whatever government spends today to “set the stage” to rebuild, should ULTIMATELY be funded by Americans.

    Raise taxes for some of it, fine with me. Put a surcharge on the 2012 income tax to pay for Joplin, Tuscaloosa, etc, a sur charge on all tax payers. Cut some pork as well. More on both in a blog.

    Then comes the question of money to rebuild, not set the stage to rebuild. Whole different approach and discussion and including “gamblers” in that discussion deserves consideration.

    And if government cannot distinguish between a gambler and someone in desperate need, why not I ask. You can, I can, anyone with a brain can do so. I have a “gambler” in my own family right now, a very right wing gambler. Guess where he/she is seeking funds to pay for his/er underinsured situation. Yep, FEMA!!!

    How about this solution. I will find the right wing gamblers and criticze them and you do the same for those on the left. And if you tell me you are unable to make that distinction, then shame on you.

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      I don’t have time to do a comparison at the moment, but suffice it to say that your comments here are much different in tone if not in substance (I think they are substantially different in substance, though) from what you wrote on your own blog. You called liberals crybabies and other such things. One of your commenters suggested I was a “traitor,” without a rebuke from you.

      Right now, I’m not in the mood to go into what I think of that commenter.

      Duane

      Like

  12. Anson,

    Like Duane, I too have noticed a change in the demeanor of your language lately. It is not only more strident and less carefully-worded, but seems less reasoned and certainly uses more labels, like “liberals” (with a pejorative context) than you used to use. When you do this it is my opinion that your argument is weakened, at least with me.

    I offer this as a candid opinion and mean no disrespect by it. I have enjoyed blogging with you in the past because you always seemed to actually consider what I wrote and provide a reasoned response. Frankly, I sense that is changing. Perhaps you have not been fully candid before and this is the real you, or maybe you are reacting to the increasing polarization in Congress. In any case I hope we three can continue to debate matters without name-calling and verbal contempt.

    Jim

    Like

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