Here’s one reason why the approval rating for Congress is low: media outlets insisting that anyone standing in the way of providing federal cash to flood victims – regardless of their private insurance policies – are heartless. An AP story by Michael Hill was headlined “The disaster-stricken cluck tongues at Congress.”
AP and Hill were clearly too “compassionate” to ask the question whether people who failed to buy flood insurance or other kinds of private insurance get to lecture politicians about hitting up taxpayers for money. Hill savaged Congress by editorializing that victims had “paid perhaps the highest price for politics.” Hill even lined up people who've already taken tens of thousands from the government to bash Congress:
On Monday, Congress advanced legislation to assure there would be no interruption in assistance through the new budget year, which begins Saturday. But that didn't do much to appease those who would have paid perhaps the highest price for politics.
They're spreading the blame both among Republicans, who want cuts in other government spending, and Democrats, who are accused of using the GOP opposition to win political points.
"They aren't looking so much at what is actually needed as what's good for their party, and that to me is wrong, wrong, wrong," said Lawrence Sayah, a Waterbury resident whose home, ravaged by the floods wrought by the remnants of Hurricane Irene, is still stripped to the studs inside.
Sayah already received $18,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, although he and his wife are appealing for more for repairs that will run more than three times that. He worried that an impasse could affect his appeal.
Sayah wasn’t the only angry guy who’s already received a check from Washington:
"You really wonder, what are they doing down there? What are they thinking?" said Skip Flanders, of Waterbury, who already got a $30,200 FEMA grant for his home. "They've certainly never been through it themselves to see what it's like to have your house and living somewhere else and not knowing how you're going to put it back together.”
Didn’t Mr. Sayah or Mr. Flanders have flood insurance to handle this disaster? AP didn’t seem to ask. All the blame is supposed to be on Congress. You can’t blame the victim. But is Congress really doing the victimizing here?
It was the same AP line for businessmen:
"We're just waiting out Washington to make the move. It's our survival in this little town," said Bill Briggs, whose factory making baseball bat blanks in upstate New York's Prattsville was destroyed by flooding wreaked by Irene. He was meeting Monday with his insurance man and a structural engineer to decide whether he could rebuild.
But in the local media in upstate New York, you can hear a story of being under-insured:
"We're underinsured, like everyone else in town, and all we can do is pray for the best," said Bill Briggs of Dimensional Hardwood....Briggs says his company has both flood and business insurance, but three weeks after Irene hit and he's still getting the runaround.
Briggs said, "This insurance company's from Utah and has claims from South Carolina to Canada. When you call, they give you a number and when your number comes up, that's when they take care of you."
Anyone can sympathize with that. But AP is playing politics with this story just as much as any member of Congress. AP's reporter brought in the local liberal Senator for commentary in paragraph nine:
Some Republicans had been pushing for expenses to be offset by cuts elsewhere. Democrats, like Sen. Patrick Leahy, who represent flood-stricken Vermont, countered that the same budgeting standards are not enforced when it comes to Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Here you have Americans, and you say you can't help Americans in America with American dollars," Leahy told The Associated Press. "It's ‘Alice in Wonderland.’”
Where were the Republicans in this story? Sen. Mitch McConnell surfaced in paragraph 24 – the story’s very last paragraph. Everyone knows that many newspaper editors might slash the AP story to a smaller size, leaving the Republicans on the editing floor.
In today’s Washington Post Express tabloid, the politicians from both sides were edited out, leaving only the victims to bash the "heartless" Congress.