Is there an end to the stupid? It's a rhetorical question, don't answer. Eric Cantor's remarks about federal aid and Tuesday's earthquake centered in his district transcend stupid and go straight to dense.
“There is an appropriate federal role in incidents like this,” Cantor said. That role? The bare minimum. According to Cantor, Congress’s traditional practice of providing disaster relief without strings attached — a policy its followed for years — is going way beyond the call of duty. If Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) asks for federal aid, Cantor insists that the relief be offset elsewhere in the federal budget:
The next step will be for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) to decide whether to make an appeal for federal aid, Cantor said. The House Majority Leader would support such an effort but would look to offset the cost elsewhere in the federal budget.
But that's not the worst of what he said. It's quite similar to what he said after Joplin, MO was devastated by a tornado. No, the real stupid came after the initial selfish, heartless, disgusting, cynical denial of federal aid.
While touring the damage in his district, Cantor surmised, “Obviously, the problem is that people in Virginia don’t have earthquake insurance.” As the Insurance Information Institute notes, “earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.” So, for Cantor, the problem here is that Virginians didn’t have the foresight to predict an exceedingly rare natural disaster and pay out of their own pocket in advance.
Until last Tuesday, the largest earthquake to hit that region was a 3.2 magnitude quake in 2010. Buildings along that corridor are not built to be earthquake-safe. This is because earthquakes are rare. If one were to buy supplemental disaster insurance, it would more likely be insurance to cover damage due to hurricanes, not earthquakes, assuming any insurer would actually sell earthquake insurance in a non-earthquake zone where buildings are not built to withstand earthquakes.
How stupid is this? We all know Cantor is the insurance and financial industry golden boy, but I'd be embarrassed to have bought and paid for such a stupid politician if I were his keepers. What's next? Denying federal aid to people in Hawaii for not buying insurance against blizzards?
Even as Hurricane Irene bears down on the East Coast – Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has already declared a state of emergency in Virginia – Cantor is also refusing to pay for hurricane disaster relief unless Congress cuts spending elsewhere. When asked about paying for potential hurricane damage by TPM, Cantor spokesperson Laena Fallon responded, “as you know, Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”