Rand Paul Isn’t a Hypocrite on Disaster Relief

Five states of the South and Midwest have been hit by destructive tornadoes that left 88 dead, and many others without power or homes. Kentucky is the hardest hit, with at most 74 victims. Democratic Governor. Andy Beshear warned that death could increase.

The ongoing pain and suffering in the state have focused the minds of more than a few liberal lawmakers and columnists on the alleged hypocrisy of its junior senator, Rand Paul (R–Ky.For asking President Joe Biden to provide federal disaster assistance for the state.

They almost ignore the requests of Paul for assistance in this disaster, as well as his past criticisms regarding disaster relief legislation. These cheap shots are inaccurate and ignore the serious issues of federal overinvolvement with natural disaster response.

Paul wrote to Biden over the weekend approving a request by Beshear for the president to declare a state of emergency and send personnel to FEMA to assess and respond to any damage.

Paul alsoBiden signed onto the Sunday correspondence sent by the Kentucky congressional delegation, asking for federal individual assistance. The program pays for housing temporary and damage to uninsured property.

Biden agreed to both of these requests and declared a major catastrophe in Kentucky on Sunday. Individual assistance was also opened to eight counties that were most severely affected by the tornado.

Reps. Eric Swalwell (D–Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) They quickly seized on the requests to critique Paul’s lack of support in the past for different relief measures. Omar goes so far as to quote Paul’s 2017 statement—when a $35 billion relief bill federal for Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico was being debated—that it was easy to be “compassionate with someone else’s money.”

The media commentators are just as harsh.

Paul did not ask for federal aid from Biden this weekend. He simply requested that federal money be allocated to him from the Federal Budget. CNN’On Monday, Chris Cillizza. “When it happens in your state, the same principles will be broken.”

Los Angeles Times Michael Hiltzik (business columnist) was even harsher in attacking Paul. He said that “one almost feels guilty” for pointing out Paul’s hypocrisy, since it’s so obvious.

Hiltzik cites Cillizza as a source of the disaster aid funding bills. Hiltzik also cites Paul’s opposition to the $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act passed by Congress in March 2020 and another bill allowing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund unlimited claim acceptance until 2090.

Hiltzik shouldn’t feel guilty about attacking Paul because of how baseless his critics are. Neither the CARES Act and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund renewal were similar to the federal assistance he requests for the storm-ravaged Kentuckians.

These were a large fiscal response to pandemic. They included all aspects of economic relief, including individual payments and effective nationalization of commercial airliners. While it is possible to be inconsistent in your opposition of these things, you can still support federal aid in the immediate aftermath a disaster.

It also does not fit Hiltzik’s claim that Paul cares only about securing funds for his state’s citizens, given that CARES Act money went to Kentucky.

The 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund renewal passed in 2019. It allows for the acceptance of compensation claims up to 2090. Additionally, it authorizes beneficiaries to be paid out without Congress actually appropriating funds.

Paul objected to the extension of the fund because there wasn’t enough money and the Senate wanted to adopt it without debate.

One might think that criticism of Paul’s opposition to past disaster relief bills—which were also echoed at ABC News and Salon, and elsewhere—are more on point. They’re not.

Paul’s hypocrisy is exemplified by his opposition of supplemental funding bills to aid victims of Sandy 2012, and in 2017 when he was hit with wildfires and other natural disasters.

Important to remember that Paul opposed bills that supplemental disaster appropriation funds were passed that used money far beyond what Congress already allocated for disaster relief.

In both cases, Paul proposed amending these bills so that they offset these supplemental appropriations—which ended up being $51 billion for Hurricane Sandy and a whopping $136 billion for 2017’s disasters—with spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Paul’s position is sensible in both instances. It basically boils down the idea of Congress deciding how much money it will spend each year. Some critics believe congressional budgets are fictions that can be expanded whenever there is a new expense item.

Paul supports federal aid for Kentucky disasters. This will be funded by the federal government’s Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund had $45Billion in its account as of December. The fund is expected to end fiscal 2022 with $10 Billion in reserve.

At this point, there is no proposal for additional disaster spending beyond what has already been allocated to Kentucky and the other affected states. Paul would support them if they did, without requiring spending cuts. ThatIt would be hypocritical.

All he has asked for so far is paid.

It’s important to be clear that Paul doesn’t consider himself a libertarian in his views on federal disaster aid. However, the current disaster response system and relief system creates too big a role for the federal governments. This has created an environment of dependency in which the first reaction for state and local officials is to go to Washington to get help. It should have been them, as well as private citizens. Paul requested individual help, which Biden approved. This creates a moral risk by having to pay for damages people aren’t insure against.

Although we could have an honest conversation about federal disaster relief, and the preservation incentives that it creates for taxpayers, this is unlikely to happen because legislators and pundits only care about making cheap, inaccurate accusations of hypocrisy.