Americans for Prosperity: $60 Billion Sandy Aid Package 'A Disgrace'

A proposed $60.4 billion Hurricane Sandy disaster bill has its detractors, among then New Jersey's own Americans for Prosperity director.

A funding bill that would provide more than $60 billion in aid for the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort is currently being debated in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The primary beneficiaries of the aid would be Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, three states that took the brunt of Sandy’s wrath and have seen damage estimates continue to rise well above President Barack Obama’s funding request.

The bill has been divisive. In both the Senate and Congress, legislators are questioning the appropriations, the allocation of the funds, the total, and the need to approve the aid all at once. Despite their differences, the majority of the country’s elected leaders in Washington D.C. agree that, in some form, the victims of Sandy are in need of federal financial aid.

Steve Lonegan disagrees.

New Jersey’s Americans for Prosperity State Director called on legislators to reject the bill, saying that aid would be a burden on the country’s taxpayers and would be misspent at all levels of government by officials glomming for every last nickel.

The bill, he said, would lead to a spending free-for-all and is merely an attempt to secure funding for wasteful endeavors by appealing to emotion.

“Tragic things happen every day to people – worse things than having your house flood – and we don’t hand them a check,” he said. “Having your shore house flood doesn’t rank.

“This is not a federal government responsibility. We need to suck it up and be responsible for taking care of ourselves.”

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s disaster estimate of nearly $37 billion is tantamount to a $119.51 tax increase for every single American, should the U.S. have to foot the bill, Lonegan said, adding that he doubted that much aid would even reach affected residents. With the country facing a fiscal cliff, Lonegan said Sandy aid shouldn’t be a priority now.

Shore towns along New Jersey’s coasts have been devastated. Families whose homes have been destroyed remain uncertain about their long-term living situations as the Federal Emergency Management Agency pays out hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and continues to scramble to find temporary housing for those still in need. Businesses have been lost, lives upturned.

Still, Lonegan, a life-long New Jersey resident, longtime mayor of Bogota in Bergen County, and a former gubernatorial challenger, remains defiant in the face of tragedy suffered by his fellow state residents, many of them struggling to put the pieces of their lives back together.

And he expects to be criticized for his thoughts, he said. 

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “Is it going to get me attacked? Yes. But it’s the right thing. Everyone is screaming about debt, but oh, it’s OK just this time. This is unfair to the other people in this country.”

Much of Lonegan’s criticism of the funding bill has to do with where the money is going and how vague the appropriations are on their face. He said he’s seen this kind of thing before. As mayor during 1999’s Hurricane Floyd, a storm that also caused massive flood damage to parts of New Jersey, Lonegan said administrators were tasked with putting together a line budget for their disaster aid application. The fire department and police department wanted to replace functioning vehicles and equipment that hadn’t actually been damaged in the storm, he said. The recreation department also had a funding request: to replace the woodchips in the playground that had washed away.

Lonegan also has issue with who would benefit from aid, saying that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for a millionaire’s vacation home. The misconception that only vacation homes were damaged in Sandy is one leaders of coastal towns with large, working middleclass neighborhoods like those in Toms River, Brick and Highlands, among others, continue to fight.

According to a report produced by the state’s Disaster Housing Task Force, following Hurricane Sandy.

The $60.4 billion disaster aid package was in part conceived by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Vice Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing FEMA.

The bill would aid New Jersey, specifically, in a number of ways, he said in a recent release. In all, $17 billion would be allocated for Community Development Block Grants, which would help rebuilding homes, buildings and public infrastructure not covered by FEMA. An additional $12 billion would be used to rebuild and improve transportation infrastructure and $5.3 billion would be put towards flood mitigation as part of a Coastal Recovery and Flood Control plan.  

“This is a comprehensive disaster relief bill that will help New Jersey and other states recover and rebuild smarter and stronger after Superstorm Sandy.  This bill provides funding for proven federal programs that will help rebuild and strengthen New Jersey's shore, transportation network, and support residents and small businesses that need help,” Lautenberg said in a release.

Support for aid and legislation as a result of Sandy has, in many cases, been bipartisan, another aspect of post-Sandy politics that’s causing some consternation for Lonegan. The de facto leader of the state’s Tea Party movement – Americans for Prosperity has organized Tea Party rallies and backed Tea Party candidates – Lonegan has remained a dogged fiscal conservative since taking up the mantel of AFP state director.

His call to congress to refuse Sandy aid hasn’t been shared by many, publicly at least. Bayshore Tea Party founder Barbara Gonzalez did not object entirely to Sandy aid but said in an email that her concern, like Lonegan’s, is where the money will go and what it will be used for.

Gonzalez, whose home received flood damage during Sandy, also acknowledged that taxes would likely have to go up in order to pay for the aid package, an idea she would be more comfortable with if it weren’t for already high tax rates, she sad.

“(O)ur taxes are going to go up to pay for the damage,” she wrote in an email. “Now, I understand that the damage was very extensive and it has to be paid for, but for Gods [sic] sake, our taxes are already outrageous.”

Lonegan said things need to slow down on the funding front. Developing an aid package that works is possible, he said, though he declined to say how much would be appropriate, though it requires much, much more scrutiny. It’s a job our government just isn’t capable of, especially with Democrats and Republicans working in concert, he said.

“(Spending) is out of control,” he said. “Whenever you see Democrats and Republicans put their arms around one another, hold on to your wallet.”

rightys are nuts December 18, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Mitt didnt like fema he lost the election incase you forgot
rightys are nuts December 18, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I agree Dom cut all foreign aid But I gotta ask do you think Sarah Palin is a socialist? After all she and everyone else who lives in AK receives a check from oil profits and How do you think Bristol would have paid for the needs of her baby
Dominick Palermo December 18, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Righty--Every state that has oil and has active wells should be getting a check --------- You have a problem with using American oil for America? or you would rather buy oil from the towel-heads ????
Johnjcpa December 18, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Why do so many think that this bill has anything to do with rebuilding their homes? FEMA has already explained everything you are going to receive if anything.
Johnjcpa December 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM
The legislation provides $42.1 billion in regular funding for the State Department and foreign aid in 2012, which is a cut of more than $6 billion from the 2011 level. But when another $11.2 billion in war-related foreign aid for Afghanistan and Iraq is added in, such as money for counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance, the total for 2012 is $53.3 billion. That total is actually an increase of some $5 billion over the comparable amount for 2011. Just pull any old amount out of your butt.
Johnjcpa December 18, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I'd love to invite you to my VFW post for a drink. Then see you call the President of the United States a mutt.
Johnjcpa December 18, 2012 at 10:33 PM
US foreign aid: The legislation provides $42.1 billion in regular funding for the State Department and foreign aid in 2012, which is a cut of more than $6 billion from the 2011 level. But when another $11.2 billion in war-related foreign aid for Afghanistan and Iraq is added in, such as money for counterterrorism and humanitarian assistance, the total for 2012 is $53.3 billion. That total is actually an increase of some $5 billion over the comparable amount for 2011. You think we give planes to Egypt for their benefit? And that money was spent here building the planes.
Dominick Palermo December 18, 2012 at 11:07 PM
John------Foreign aid and diplomacy together comprise around 1 percent of the federal budget, or $56 billion in President Obama’s 2013 budget request. That money goes toward global poverty alleviation, including a contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, as well as peacekeeping operations conducted by the United Nations and general U.S. diplomatic activities around the world. That $56 billion does not include foreign military assistance, which is estimated at an additional $14 billion in fiscal 2013. Foreign military assistance is the money we spend to train foreign armies and help them acquire weapons. Okay a bit off -----But Isnt that money better spent on the USA in time of need than givien to countrys that hate us --------183 nations get it --- Think they all deserve it ???????????
Barney December 18, 2012 at 11:08 PM
If you voted for purple lips you must be lazy poor or a union crook.
Mapleleafnj December 19, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Sad but it will pass and billions more will be waisted, and 5 years from now people who lost everything will still not have nothing, and the bleeding hearts will wonder where the money went, and our children will be dumped a pile of debt. But the f-ing roller coaster will be working and their will no doubt be a light rail system to take you there if you want . There won't even be any American people working the darn thing just like it was before the storm. Just as American as Chinese merchandise from Walmart.
bg robbins December 19, 2012 at 03:45 AM
6 billion people pumping millions of tons of co2 into the atmosphere everyday ......that's not measly
Danny December 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM
The Politicians have ruined this country and world....Everything in the end has become a scam.
Danny December 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM
I left out the lawyers too.
Johnjcpa December 19, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Dominick, The difference 53 billion in 2012 or 70 billion requested for 2013 and your assertion of 300 billion is more than a "little bit off." Does each and every country deserve it? I would guess that the money spent to fight AIDS, malaria, polio, hunger, etc. isn't deserved at all. About 25 billion of that 70 for 2013 goes to Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Israel. Will we be that less safe if it's 12.5 instead? I don't know? Most of the non-military spending is for state department operations, salaries and facilities, throughout the world. We could cut back and watch other major nations increase their influence in those areas. I've already cut the foreign aid from 300 billion down to 53 for 2012, I'll let you make the cuts for 2013.
Dominick Palermo December 19, 2012 at 04:10 PM
John ---------Not that i am a expert -----but i am retired military (2008) with over 30 yrs and multiple depoyments to Iraq Afgan Kosovo--just noting recent ones ---------I would say we dont owe these countrys a damn thing ------ the help goes unappreciated and in a lot of cases unwanted -------Kosovo for example --The Serbs hated us and so did the Muslim population -who we were saving ------------so why bother --waste time material manpower and American lives -----I say a 2 yr moritorium on all foriegn aid ------------Suck it up needy nations -------Uncle Samy cant bale ya out for a while
Johnjcpa December 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Dominick, Thanks for your service, for me 3 years, 4 months, 3 days. Guess we're both part of the 47% that think we are entitled to our benefits, I sure do. I didn't think my tour of Vietnam was because they liked us and now I know that it didn't have much to do with national defense. Great big wall with 58,300 names that is a testament to not building other nations. As an alternative, I'll suggest 1 less unneeded 100 million fighter not requested by the pentagon. That will take care of Sandy relief, fisheries, all the other crap they tried to throw in the bill, and still have money for a Lawrence Welk museum or two. Semper Fi!
Dominick Palermo December 20, 2012 at 01:16 PM
John, Thank you for your service also ------------Why are we in Afgan ------Our mission to go to Afgan was to Osama Bin Ladin ---- Well sir that was taken care of by Seal Team 6 --Mission Complete ---- time to pack up our shit and go home ---Who decided the mission was turning into nation building and a money grab for Karsi------- Karsi is playing both sides
Dominick Palermo December 20, 2012 at 01:18 PM
John----------Why are we still in Iraq -----------we still have troops in the green zone -- why????? Get them all back here ---
Johnjcpa December 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Dominick, My best guess is the troops still in Iraq are there more for the affect that a base between Iran and both Syria and Israel has on the Iranians. As long as they stay out of the sects trying to kill each other in Iraq, probably in our best interests. I will be more than glad to see them out of Afghanistan. Our post paid our respects to the family of the marine from Island Heights last week. He'll be the fifth marine of the nine we have listed on our memorial at the post. I dread the carnage that will happen when we are out of Afghanistan, but way past time to get out.
Dominick Palermo December 20, 2012 at 11:08 PM
John-- Not a lot of sympathy for the people of Astan-----so when we leave --what happens happens -------- but i do know this it wont be good ------and agree entirelly "way past time to get out "
Elaine December 20, 2012 at 11:23 PM
fear not the repukes want to cut it from 60 to 24 this I support and can be done if all of those who voted for Mitt do not receive money since Mitt said fema is immoral while wearing his magic underwear
Elaine December 20, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Domenick you do know that not a drop of oil fron the Keystone pipe line will stay here in the US dontcha you tube the video of ceo in front of congress
Elaine December 20, 2012 at 11:30 PM
End all foreign aid Period
Elaine December 20, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Dick Cheney still needs to make money
Keith Jensen December 22, 2012 at 04:37 AM
$60.4Billion, not all because of Sandy according to the NYPost,“The pork-barrel feast includes more than $8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments. It also includes a whopping $150 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to dole out to fisheries in Alaska and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution to repair museum roofs in DC. An eye-popping $13 billion would go to “mitigation” projects to prepare for future storms. Other big-ticket items in the bill include $207 million for the VA Manhattan Medical Center; $41 million to fix up eight military bases along the storm’s path, including Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; $4 million for repairs at Kennedy Space Center in Florida; $3.3 million for the Plum Island Animal Disease Center and $1.1 million to repair national cemeteries.” http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2012/12/18/Shame-on-Congress-for-Robbing-Hurricane-Sandy-Victims.aspx#page1
Mary December 24, 2012 at 01:13 PM
This is why we are in debt...All the pork-barrel feast. I am sure there is even more hidden agendas. Most like those who really need the money is not going to get any.
Mary December 24, 2012 at 01:13 PM
foggyworld February 04, 2013 at 11:58 PM
All houses are not created equal. Many of the damaged houses were worth all of $200K. And fema isn't giving anybody money: they are passing out SBA loan applications so those who are in pain can add the repayment of that loan to their existing mortgage and of course taxes on the fixed up or new homes will skyrocket. Fema's money is going to pay for civil servants and the efforts they made on the part of the towns they work in.
Mrs. G. February 27, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Which Americans does this man wish to prosper?
Sue February 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Lonegan is an infamous tea bagger, a legend in his own mind, and should take his ideas back where they belong, in the 18th century.


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