Sandy Amnesia

Considering the northeastern venue of most media centers, it’s not surprising that the House’s refusal to follow the Senate in enacting a package of relief and recovery funds for states hit by Sandy is getting a lot of attention today. Those crying betrayal include a lot of House Republicans, notably New York’s Peter King, who is calling on New Yorkers to boycott House GOP campaign accounts and even fanning rumors he’s considering a party-switch.

So given the GOP’s politically counter-productive recent history with disaster relief, what were House leaders thinking? Slate‘s Dave Weigel suggests it was mainly a matter of fiscal-cliff tunnel-vision and maybe even collective amnesia. I’m guessing (and it’s just a guess) GOPers were loath to pour gasoline on the fire of conservative outrage over passage of a tax bill with no spending cuts by kicking in another $60 billion of new (if entirely anticipated) spending without offsets. Under this theory, they intended to come back in the next Congress and take care of the Sandy money when it could be obscured (outside the northeast, at least) by all the thundering rhetoric of spending-cut demands associated with a debt limit increase–though it’s also possible the Sandy money could be rolled over into that fight as an additional Blue State leverage point. But if this was a deliberate maneuver that counted on distracted media, it seems to have backfired.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.