January 15th, 2013
08:36 PM ET

Letters to the President #1457: 'The Sandy relief bill'

Reporter's Note: President Obama’s Democrats…and some Republicans…were arguing in Congress today about an emergency funding measure for Superstorm Sandy.

Dear Mr. President,

I spent pretty much the whole afternoon listening to the torrent of arguments in the House over this emergency aid bill for the communities hit by that big storm, Sandy. I must say it was enlightening. I’ve covered plenty of things like this before, but I was struck by how clearly I could hear both sides talking past each other. Over and over again they launched versions of competing views as if utterly deaf to what the other side had just said.

From the Republicans: “This bill should be solely about direct, emergency aid to the communities that were hit. Future funding may be needed. Future funding may even be wise. But Democrats can not use an emergency spending measure as a stalking horse to sneak funding to all sorts of pet projects. For example, money to improve the government’s hurricane predication capability should absolutely not be included.”

From the Democrats and Republicans who live in the storm area: “This bill should be about a comprehensive, long term recovery plan. Sure, some of these measures may not seem to be directly connected to the disaster, but they really are. For example, money to improve the government’s hurricane prediction capability should absolutely be included.”

Both sides, I firmly believe, have great majorities of members who care about what happened to the people when that storm hit, and who care about the recovery of their communities. Both sides had impassioned, clearly intelligent speakers. Both sides, seemingly, could have recognized the other’s concern and addressed it… reasonably …fairly. But neither side did. In the end, it came down to a vote, and the money was approved. There were winners and losers, but I think the public at large lost …because serious issues on both sides that deserved serious consideration once again were swept up in posturing that probably, in the long run, serves nobody well.

Hope all is good with you and the family. Excited about the Inauguration? Getting close…


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