How Congress has screwed New Jersey… again



Back in January, Congress was hammered following a decision to delay a vote to provide relief aid to states like New Jersey, which were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. Gov. Chris Christie famously called out members of his own party over the delay, saying, “There is only one group to blame – the House majority and their speaker, John Boehner.”

Fast-forward a couple of months. Just as storm-battered residents have begun to repair the damage to their homes and put their lives back together, here comes “sequestration,” the mandated, across-the-board $85 billion in cuts that everyone in Washington hates, yet couldn’t stop from becoming law.

President Obama has sounded like atomic bomb creator Robert Oppenheimer over the last few weeks, telling us how the policy he conceived would now devastate the country. Oppenheimer’s words were “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Obama did try to bring Republicans to the negotiating table to come up with an alternative, but Boehner and company were more concerned with protecting tax rates for the rich and preserving corporate loopholes than figuring out a way to prevent these cuts from going into effect.

Back home, the cuts will cost Hurricane Sandy victims about $2.9 billion in aid alone. The largest chunk, $1.9 billion, will be cut from money set aside for transportation repairs, Army Corps of Engineers’ flood mitigation projects and Community Development Block Grants, according to the Daily Record.

In addition, $1 billion will be cut from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster relief fund, which is their main mechanism to assist victims of storm damage.

“They’ll be across the board,” said Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey. “This means that if a town was supposed to get $1 million to rebuild, they will get $930,000. This means that towns that are totally without a tax base and are having a tough time rebuilding are going to have an even tougher time.”

The worst part about this latest catastrophe is it was 100 percent preventable. A dyslectic chimp could have done a better job governing than the inept dingbats we’ve decided to empower with solving the country’s problem. Because of that, “sequestration” will indiscriminately slash about $85 billion from the federal budget between March 1 and September 30.

Now, I’m just a cartoonist, but with the help of Google, I’ve found a couple of items that we could cut from the federal budget tomorrow that would save us as much as the “sequester.” Plus, I think they are wasteful items most Americans can agree we should get rid of:

Ending the war on drugs: Harvard University economist Jeffrey Miron has advocated for the legalization of drugs for decades. But with “sequestration” in effect, he might have his most compelling argument yet – the financial savings to taxpayers.

According to Miron, the U.S. could save between $85 and $90 billion a year if it ended it’s so-called “War on Drugs” policy. Roughly half would be saved by ending our costly anti-drug enforcement policy, while the other half represents the lost tax revenue that could be levied on the sale of legal drugs.

Ending the F-35 program: One look at this defense department boondoggle says all you need to know about waste and fraud in Washington. This warplane, already a victim of years of delays and cost overruns, is set to cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion over its useful lifetime.

Considering the setbacks the program has suffered, including a recent grounding of all jets due to a engine cracks, it may be time to cut this program off completely and save more than $500 billion in the process.

Why aren’t we considering it? Because the F-35’s developer, Lockheed Martin, has spread F-35 jobs across the entire country, to a total of 45 states.

No lawmaker wants to deal with lost jobs in their home district, so the chance of cutting this useless program is nonsensically low.

But, for added fun, the next time you come across a tea party supporter who tells you the government doesn’t create jobs, just hold up a picture of the F-35 and watch what’s left of their brain melt.

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Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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