If you’re trying to institute a new paradigm in the field of federal disaster relief, you could use a better ally than former FEMA Director Michael Brown, better known to most of you as “Heckuva Job” Brownie.
He’s the former International Arabian Horse Association Commissioner and the guy many blame for bungling the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He’s also the first high-profile person in with experience in the field of disaster management to back the new GOP requirement that federal disaster aid be offset with federal spending cuts.
On Fox News Tuesday, Brown gave the policy his seal of approval.
“We don’t have any money,” Brown said, echoing a common GOP talking point. “Let’s say FEMA needs an additional $1 billion. Forty-two cents of every dollar that they give FEMA will have to be borrowed. So we have to start making these choices.”
Conservatives have been beating this drum for a long time, but by and large the national standard has been that in emergency situations, the government doesn’t offset emergency spending. This was true for Katrina and for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, among other expenditures.
It’s still not clear how much, if any, federal disaster relief coastal states will need after Hurricane Irene, but led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the GOP currently seems prepared to make sure it’s all offset with spending cuts.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.