Erik Paulsen regularly issues a video Correspondence Corner in which he responds to constituent questions.
It is a great ploy — Congressman Paulsen determines what question is to be answered … thus, providing him an opportunity to portray himself as effectively responding to issues that he wishes to address as if they are the most critical issues that voters want addressed.
The MN Political Roundtable will be evaluating Congressman Paulsen’s responses and encouraging readers to offer their own assessments.
Yesterday’s topic, DACA Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Today’s topic, Hurricane Harvey.
Responding to a telephone call from Sonya of Maple Plain calling for Congress to return to Washington to address Hurricane Harvey funding needs, Congressman Erik Paulsen assured Minnesota’s Third District constituents that it was actually the first order of business when they returned.
— Rep. Erik Paulsen (@RepErikPaulsen) September 6, 2017
JUST IN: House passes bill to provide $7.85 billion in emergency funding for Harvey recovery by vote of 419-3 pic.twitter.com/IXn7hG6bxP
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 6, 2017
The operative words are “emergency funding” and “1st step” .
Without these new FEMA funds, officials said FEMA’s cash box would be empty just as Hurricane Irma was building.
In other words, because of the floods, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes, all the money would be gone … did they have any choice but to approve additional monies ?
Remember that FEMA’s FY2017 budget was reduced from its FY2016 appropriations and that President Trump proposed cutting FEMA funding for FY2018 (the good news is that Congress has still not finalized the appropriations yet). The Trump administration wanted to encourage states and cities to budget for their own preparedness and shift the cost of paying for disaster preparation and response away from the federal government.
The House bill approved $7.4 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and $450 million for the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program.
FEMA is probably something that many understand … but as Congressman Paulsen said, FEMA will have to replenish their supplies.
The Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Program may be something that requires a little explaining … it’s run through the SBA, but the Disaster Loan Program will be used by many homeowners. Renters and homeowners are eligible for S.B.A. loans of up to $40,000 to cover property losses, and homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 for repairs to real estate. The rates on those loans range from 1.75 percent to 3.5 percent — far lower than other options like credit cards or bank loans — and the terms on them can stretch as long as 30 years.
More than $103 million in Hurricane Harvey SBA disaster loans have been approved.
With a quarter of that money already spent, do you think that it is adequately funded ? Gosh, it seems like some MathGuy must have lowballed the number … remember the Paulsen Mantra — “Washington must do more with less”,
Harvey is projected to cost a lot more …. some projections as much as $180 billion.
So, now that you know a little bit more about the “emergency funding”, it probably wasn’t a surprise that the vote was not close … only three no votes … Republicans Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Justin Amash of Michigan were outvoted 419-3.
“With $20 trillion dollars of debt, and in the absence of a budget to guide spending, I believe that unscheduled spending should be offset by equal cuts elsewhere,” Massie said in a statement. “This bill recklessly increases the national debt because it contains no spending offsets.”
That’s the hook … Congressman Massie may not be known as the #MathGuy, but he did acknowledge that this funding would add to the national debt …. Minnesota’s self-anointed MathGuy just ignored it.
Funny thing how this week, the Congress with Congressman Paulsen voting YES, voted to increase the national debt and to temporarily fund the government into December — but that did not need to be mentioned, as Congressman Paulsen’s Correspondence Corner segments are designed to spin the message.
In this instance, Sonya said essentially “Let’s help these people“, and Congressman Paulsen left the viewer thinking that he is … when in reality there are a lot more that needs to be done.
But, let’s give him credit … he did say this was the “1st step” .
We don’t know when the second step may occur … nor where the money will come from.
We do know that the House has already targeted some areas for cuts
— $528 million for EPA
— $334 million for Wildland Firefighting and Prevention
— $125 million for Land and Water Conservation Fund
— $64 million for National Park Service
— $46 million for U.S. Geological Survey (earthquakes)
— $46 million for Bureau of Land Management
— $40 million for the Office of Surface Mining
— $38 million for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
So when you hear the Paulsen Mantra — “Washington must do more with less”, let’s just hope we don’t have a fire in the Boundary Waters or a fracking-induced earthquake or a tornado or another Red River flood … ’cause we just might not have the money to help.
One thing that you will hear is Congressman Paulsen proclaiming the need for tax cuts … never asking if taxes could be key to reducing the national debt (but heck, do you think he would really want to end the carried-interest loophole when it is so much more fun to denounce the “Death Tax” that will benefit so many in Trump’s cabinet?)
One thing that you won’t hear from Congressman Paulsen is a call to Act On Climate … ’cause he’s a MathGuy not an Environmental Scientist.