Eric Cantor is trending on Twitter right now, and it’s for a comment he made about the tornado that killed at least 116 people in Joplin, Missouri. Cantor, merely following established conservative ideology, made the statement that no emergency relief for Joplin would pass the House without corresponding cuts elsewhere.
As the Washington Times reports, Cantor said any aid would need to be offset by other spending cuts, “If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental.” The term “pay-fors” means either spending cuts or tax increases, and the Republicans have firmly stated that they would not pass any tax increases this year. The Washington Times also points out that six years then-House Majority Leader Tom Delay approved Hurricane Katrina aid without offsetting spending cuts. At the time Delay said it was acceptable to just add the Katrina aid on to the deficit.
Needless to say, many on Twitter reacted with horror. But I’m not sure why. This is the true heart of the Republican Party. The idea of the “compassionate conservative” went long ago, and the idea that we’re all in it together never arrived. On the same day that Cantor made this statement, the House Appropriations Committee revealed their plan to cut nutrition and food safety programs by 10-15%, including $832 million in cuts to the Women, Infants and Children food assistance program and $285 million to the FDA. They’re not really interested in helping people and they never were. Presumably the folks in Joplin should just pick themselves up by their bootstraps and rebuild their homes themselves.
This is just the conservative ethos: You’re on your own. It’s perhaps best expressed by this exchange with Rep. Rob Woodall, who asked a constituent “When do I decide I’m going to take care of me?” It’s just what they believe. Of course they wouldn’t want to spend a dime on relief efforts in Joplin. The people of Joplin should have expected that.