Obama Asks For $60.4 Billion & Establishes Task Force For Hurricane Sandy Rebuild

Last Friday Barack Obama issued an executive order to establish a federal task force that will come alongside the Federal Emergency Management Agency “to provide the coordination that is necessary to support these rebuilding objectives.” In addition, the Obama administration also asked Congress for $60.4 billion “for response, recovery and mitigation related to Hurricane Sandy damage in all affected States.”

So as we face the fiscal cliff, that everyone has hyped, but doesn’t seem to really concern our elected leaders, the Obama administration has requested over $60 billion dollars for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. They also requested that $55 billion of the 60.4 billion be considered “emergency”, which would allow for the money to flow without violating the spending limits approved for the current year. So in other words, this would mean another $55 billion in increased deficit spending, which is above the limits that were agreed to in 2011’s debt limit deal. See? You just cannot trust Democrats and liberals to keep their word on deals they make.

The National Association of State Budget Officers informs us that, ” Of the total amount, $47.4 billion would be for relief, recovery and rebuilding efforts, while the remaining $13 billion is designated for mitigation efforts to prevent destruction from future storms. The request included: $21.8 billion for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); $15 billion in flexible Community Development Block Grant funding; $12 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT); $5.3 billion for the civil works water program of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, and $33.2 million for the Army and Air National Guard, with the remainder going to other agencies. Mitigation projects designed to prevent devastation from natural disasters would be guided by regional response plans created by Federal agencies in partnership with state, local and tribal entities. Overall, approximately $55 billion of the total package would be considered emergency spending, while the remainder would come out of the $11.8 billion in spending already proposed by Congress for fiscal 2013 disaster aid.”

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The letter to Congress from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Jeffrey Zients reads in part:

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In total, the Administration requests $60.4 billion in Federal resources for response, recovery and mitigation related to Hurricane Sandy damage in all affected States. This includes efforts to repair damage to homes and public infrastructure and to help affected communities prepare for future storms. Attached is a detailed appendix outlining the specific needs, funding accounts, provisions, and principles that comprise the Administration’s request for assistance.

Our Nation has an obligation to assist those who suffered losses and who lack adequate resources to rebuild their lives. At the same time, we are committed to ensuring Federal resources are used responsibly and that the recovery effort is a shared undertaking: private insurers must fulfill their commitment to the region; public assistance must be targeted for public benefit; resources must be directed to those in greatest need; and impacted States and localities must contribute, as appropriate, to the costs of rebuilding, Accordingly, consistent with the increased emphasis it has placed on the integrity of all Federal spending activities, the Administration proposes that controls be put in place to ensure that funds are used appropriately to protect against waste, fraud, and abuse.

Is anyone else buying this? There has been no integrity with Federal spending. There will be no controls in place that actually work to protect against “waste, fraud, and abuse.” In addition the Nation (ie. the Federal government) does not bear an obligation to assist those who suffered. While individual citizens, churches, and charity organizations do bear a moral responsibility to their neighbors, they are never forced to contribute. Yet, what happens when they do? They provide a far greater benefit and sense of community than anything the Federal government does.

In addition, Obama signed an executive order on Friday that also established a new task force that will “identify opportunities for achieving rebuilding success, consistent with the NDRF’s commitment to support economic vitality, enhance public health and safety, protect and enhance natural and manmade infrastructure, and ensure appropriate accountability. The Task Force will work to ensure that the Federal Government continues to provide appropriate resources to support affected State, local, and tribal communities to improve the region’s resilience, health, and prosperity by building for the future.”

Interestingly enough, just to demonstrate just how inefficient the Federal government actually is, the executive order gives the task force 180 days to come up with a strategy which includes providing a summary of their activities, a long-term building plan, goals, proposed legislation and regulations that could support the area’s rebuilding, and a plan for monitoring progress.

That’s six months to come up with this “strategy!” How long do you think the private sector or even the local and state governments would take to do this? New York has already established it’s task force, made up of a bi-partisan team of ten State Senators, and is already under efforts for recovery.

For many residents the issue is finding temporary housing till they can rebuild, along with banks being far too slow in releasing advance checks to them and obviously a backlog with insurance companies.

While the Executive Order crams the heads or their designated representatives from at least 23 different agencies together into the Federal task force, one has to wonder when these people are going to have way too much on their plate to function properly. This inevitably will demonstrate the Federal government’s inefficiency, including that of it’s primary force on the ground, FEMA.

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