Blame Obama, not GOP, for delays on storm aid

The News editorial expressing outrage over John Boehner and Hurricane Sandy seems misdirected. President Obama failed completely to honor his dramatic pre-election promise to get immediate help to Sandy victims. He delayed his request to Congress until more than a month after the storm. The Democrat-controlled Senate then sat on the pork-laden bill until three days before the year’s end in a cynical attempt to pressure the Republican House. It took the much-maligned George Bush and Congress only 11 days to put together a $52 billion package after the much more deadly Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Less than half of Obama’s emergency $60 billion request covers storm damage sustained by individuals, governments and businesses. The rest is for mitigation of future flood events and lots of pork. Obama’s request is triple the total bill for all privately insured homes and businesses.

Sandy-type storms are hardly unprecedented. In 1938, the Long Island Express killed more than 680 people in New York and New England. Nearly 60 years ago, Hurricane Hazel caused 176 deaths in the United States and Canada, including 35 who drowned in a Toronto suburb. Sea levels in New York Harbor have been rising for 150 years.

A 2010 report to the State Legislature predicted the likelihood of powerful storms just like Sandy and recommended a number of mitigation measures. New York City objected to nearly half of them, and no action has been taken by any local, state or federal agency or politician. These are the same people to whom we are about to hand over tens of billions of taxpayer dollars. It is money that could have gone to deserving victims, and in a timely fashion.

Malcolm Vanderburgh