Friday Lightning Round: Sandy relief bill

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HARRY REID, D - NV, SENATE MAJORITY LEAD: When we had that devastating Katrina, we were there with him days taking care of Mississippi, Alabama, and especially Louisiana. Within days. We are now past two months with the people of New York. And the people of New Orleans and that area, they were hurt. But nothing in comparison to what has happened to the people in New England.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Senator Reid on the floor of the Senate today as Congress passed the $ 9.7 billion Sandy supplemental for flood insurance. It's, of course, worth pointing out nearly 1,500 people died because of Hurricane Katrina. About 110 died because of Hurricane Sandy. Both were obviously horrible disasters, but worth putting in perspective. Also perspective, the blame game as the politics back and forth has been heated this week.  Take a listen and listen back to President Obama and his tours of the area.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are not going to tolerate red tape. We are not going to tolerate bureaucracy.  And, you know, I've instituted a 15-minute rule essentially on my team. You return everybody's phone calls in 15 minutes.

I promise, promise, you are going to be OK. Everybody is safe. That's the most important thing. We're going to get this whole thing - we're going to get this whole thing set up.

DONNA VANZANT, NEW JERSEY BUSINESS OWNER: It has been almost a month now and I've gotten no help and gotten nothing but no, you are not covered for this. No, you're not covered for that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: And that was a month ago. And Donna Vanzant has -- has said she still hasn't had any help. We're back with the panel. A.B., you know, you -- the politics around this, everything was pointing at the House Speaker and you had Republicans and Democrats yelling about this vote being delayed. But what about the, you know, the FEMA has money that is being deployed up there. Or not deployed. And how much this blame game really gets tossed around?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, everyone likes to use emergencies to get real emotional and political. And the Speaker made a mistake, I think, in delaying this vote. It was probably done through fatigue and frustration, but it was the wrong call. And in deciding to do half of the vote today, for $9.7 billion and keeping the $51 billion vote on a calendar for January 15, what we saw was a very 354 to 67, it passed handily. But disasters, emergency spending used to be bipartisan.

And now what we are seeing is a split among the Republicans who are worried about expanding borrowing authority for the National Flood Insurance Program and this kind of thing. When bills are getting lorded up with last minute goodies and we can't afford the emergency relief funding anyway. So there is no guarantee that the next installment on the 15th is going to pass. And you have conservatives like Paul Ryan pitched against conservatives, a leading fiscal hawk like Jeb Hensarling of Texas who says the bills have to be paid. It's a 140,000 cases that have not been completed. But people are right, without offsets to pay for this, how do you keep doing it?

BAIER: Steve?

HAYES: Although Ryan voted no today on this.

STODDARD: I said Ryan against Hensarling.

HAYES: Right. But Hensarling has also been outspoken for a long time on removing the federal flood insurance program from the national level. I mean he wants to totally revamp the federal flood insurance.

STODDARD: But he supported the bill.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: And, you know, makes the argument, in fact, that it's $20 billion in debt, the last thing we can do is afford to just rubber stamp these things in the aftermath of a crisis, because it's the aftermath of a crisis, as you say. I mean I think the problem here that is if every -- if you -- if everything can be funded in an emergency, in emergency spending, then everything becomes emergency spending. And I think Republicans are absolutely right to put this kind of scrutiny on this funding. And on everything that the federal government does.

BAIER: I will remind you it's the Lightning Round. But, go ahead. Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Sometimes the hypocrisy of the Democrats would leave Diogenes stunned. The Democrats spent two years savaging the President Bush over his treatment of Katrina. And all of a sudden it's a paragon of how to deal with disasters and this idea that somehow the person to blame for the suffering of the people today, months after Sandy, who aren't getting help, who are stuck as we saw in that clip with the bureaucracy which isn't helping them. Is John Boehner because of a bill he didn't pass on January 1? It's preposterous. And the press is playing along that line.

I think what Boehner did in postponing the vote until today was absolutely right. That was a rape of the Treasury. $60 billion including a ton of pork. The part that was essential was what passed today, which was to replenish the flood insurance. That is right. And the rest ought to be debated in regular order.

BAIER: Winners and losers down the line.

KRAUTHAMMER: The winner obviously Obama. Crushing victory over the Republicans on the fiscal cliff. And the person who actually is losing his life as we speak. It's Hugo Chavez. It's likely that his revolution will crumble once he dies.

BAIER: A.B.?

STODDARD: I think Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard and Fox News who agreed with him, telling Republicans to get taxes off the table immediately and move on to spending cuts were both right. And they are winners. That is what Republicans should have done four or five weeks ago. And I think that Vice President Biden and McConnell are winners and I think the entire Republican House are losers.

HAYES: The obvious winner is President Obama. He had been campaigning for higher taxes on the wealthy, he got higher taxes on the wealthy. And I think the obvious loser is any child born in America today, who was coming in to the country with $50,000 plus in debt that they owe. Welcome to the world.

BAIER: On that happy note that is it for the panel. But to see -- stay tuned to see someone who might be better than the instant replay. 
 

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