“Compassionate conservatism” always seemed more of a slogan than a reality and, to the extent that conservative political doctrine ever included compassion, it has been expunged.
Reacting to recent natural disasters, the Majority Leader in the House, Rep. Eric Cantor, said “Nobody should underestimate the tragedy here. Our hearts reach out to these families.” Although his heart reached out, his hand stayed firmly in his pocket. He declared that any funding for relief must be offset by spending cuts. Never mind that aid is needed; play fiscal games.
The GOP doctrine of offsetting cuts is, like all of its budget principles, less about controlling deficits than ideology. Therefore it came as no surprise that the offset to a $1 billion appropriation for relief would be a cut of $1.5 billion to an Energy Department program for the production of fuel-efficient vehicles. If an offset were required, a better choice would be to end tax subsidies to oil companies. However, elimination is opposed by House and Senate Republicans.
Ideology, followed blindly, leads to illogical conclusions. Although it granted $1 billion to FEMA for current disaster relief — after claiming its ransom — the Appropriations Committee cut $1.07 billion from other funding for disaster aid and firefighter assistance and training. Accurate and timely forecasting can lessen the suffering from natural disasters, but the House also has proposed to reduce funding for weather satellites.