Commentary Magazine


Sandy Aid Package Another Excuse for Pork

In the midst of the fiscal cliff negotiations, the Obama administration has provided us with a perfect example of why we’re in this situation in the first place. The president has put together a $60 billion emergency aid package for superstorm Sandy victims, which needs the approval of Congress. As with any large spending package, it’s filled with pork. ABC News first reported on the specifics of the bill, including the most outrageous requests:

$2 million to repair roof damage at Smithsonian buildings in Washington that pre-dates the storm; $4 million to repair sand berms and dunes at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; and $41 million for clean-up and repairs at eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Small Business Administration is seeking a $50 million slice of the pie for its post-storm response efforts, including “Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Development Centers.”

Congressional Republicans concerned about the national debt and spending are now exactly where the Obama administration wants them–stuck between a rock and a hard place. Approving the bill adds unnecessary billions onto a package that was only meant to do one thing–provide emergency support to Northeast victims of the superstorm. Yet stopping the bill in the House would allow the president to portray congressional Republicans as out-of-touch political animals, denying victims of one of the worst storms in U.S. history assistance. The Obama administration’s response to Republican resistance to the package sounds exactly like any individual in debt and confused about how they got there:

“The aid to federal agencies is a very small percentage of the entire package,” the official told ABC News.

Just because the wasteful percentage of the package is quite small in comparison to the overall expenditures doesn’t mean that it should be passed as-is. The only way for Americans to stop digging ourselves into debt is by starting to distinguish needs from wants, and unfortunately that means that we might not have as many “Women’s Business Development Centers” as we might like. By trimming the fat, Americans can ensure that future generations will be at least able to provide for their needs, and maybe one day, their wants as well.