Crisis Management as a Means to Corruption

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was recently taken to task by Katy Tur of MSNBC for the fact that he is seeking federal aid for Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, but yet he was opposed a federal spending bill in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Supposedly, this is some great hypocrisy, as Cruz routinely rails against the overspending in Washington. He wasn’t willing to vote for federal aid when a huge storm hit the Northeast in 2012, but here he is mustering support for federal aid when a huge storm hits Texas in 2017.

Cruz provides a reasonable explanation for his position at that time, however. He explained that “the problem with that particular bill was that it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”

This claim was met with all the requisite “fact checks” that the mainstream media like to rely upon, including’s assessment that Cruz is “wrong.”

That’s it. Not “somewhat wrong” or “wrong from a certain point-of-view.” Just wrong.

But despite this decisive claim being made, there is evidence buried within “fact checker” Lori Robertson’s article that the “fact checkers” aren’t so sure of the conclusion found in the headline.

For example, Robertson writes that “there are judgment calls to be made in this exercise.”

The “exercise” is determining whether Cruz’s claim that “two-thirds of the bill had nothing to do with Sandy” is, definitively, fact or fiction. She cites Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense who “estimated for that about $30 billion of the $50 billion was Sandy-related, or about 60% of the bill.”

But she goes on to say that Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro, also from Texas, “went too far the other way, saying that “I hope [the Harvey relief bill] will be a clean bill that only affects disaster-related things, as the Superstorm Sandy bill did back then.”

“That’s misleading,” Robertson writes. “One could make the argument that nearly all of the bill included “disaster-related” things,” but not Sandy-related. Just as one could argue that there were non-emergency items in the bill.”

Not to point out minor details to our revered “fact checkers,” but didn’t Cruz just say that two-thirds of the bill had nothing to do with Sandy? And didn’t the fact checker who concluded that he is incontrovertibly “wrong” in her headline just say that it’s reasonable that someone “could make the argument that nearly all of the bill” was “not Sandy-related?”

This is one of those hilarious moments that we enjoy while observing the political spin. Lori Robertson admits that Cruz’s argument has merit, even within her own argument that he’s altogether “wrong.”

Actually, there’s definitive evidence suggesting that Cruz is right. According to one argument which evidences this, conducted by the Heritage Foundation, only $12.8 billion, or “21% of the total,” was earmarked for “Hurricane Sandy response and recovery. The rest went to unrelated projects.” Projects like “$3 billion for federal departments and agencies to repair and replace federal assets, including $2 million for roof repair at the Smithsonian,” and “$200 million for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to be used freely at the discretion of the Secretary.”

 As Heritage’s Matt Heyer explained in 2012:

[T]oo much of the Obama Administration’s supplemental request for Hurricane Sandy includes items left best for its upcoming budget… Because of the federal government’s dire fiscal condition, underscored by the current fiscal cliff negotiations, spending reductions should offset any additional spending.

Cruz is not wrong. This is just more of the same leftist vitriol to misrepresent conservative principles and unjustifiably allege hypocrisy.

Leftists and establishment Republicans (why do I continue to make this distinction?) merely used the crisis of Hurricane Sandy as a mechanism to give the veneer of legitimacy to the actions of a corrupt government bent on burying pork in a relief bill rather than allowing such auxiliary spending to be appropriated in a legitimate forum of debate (as all nonessential federal spending should be).

Like many things in today’s world, observing this nonsense might be funnier if "The Simpsons" hadn’t already done it first.

There was a memorable moment in the show that I’ve always believed defined Washington politics in every year since I saw it in 1995. With a comet bearing down on the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, and the only bridge out of town having been destroyed, news anchor Kent Brockman tells his audience:

Brockman: With our utter annihilation imminent, our federal government has snapped into action. We go live now via satellite to the floor of the United States Congress.

[Cuts to] House Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to evacuate the town of Springfield, in the great state of…

Congressman: Wait a second, I wanna tack on a rider to that bill. Thirty million dollars of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.

House Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?

[Boos from the House]

House Speaker: Bill Defeated. [Gavel slams]

[Cuts back to] Brockman: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, democracy simply doesn’t work.”

If relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy are any indication, times have not changed.

If we look for any indication that the swamp is being drained, however, it may be signified by a relief bill for my home city of Houston and my home state of Texas which doesn’t have buried pork for auxiliary federal spending initiatives within such a bill.

There is no hypocrisy in conservatives seeking such an outcome. In fact, nothing could be more prudent or fiscally conservative. And despite the phony allegations being made, Ted Cruz is both of those things.

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter.