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  • Morning Bell: Rebuilding Communities

    Many Americans will find it difficult to return to their daily routines today. The massacre at a Connecticut elementary school Friday, in which 26 people were murdered in an act of senseless violence, including 20 small children, has left the country shocked. The Heritage Foundation expresses its condolences to the families and friends of the victims and grieves along with them.

    Among people heading back to work will be lawmakers, who will do their best to carry on as they return to Washington to confront a number of pressing challenges, including a disaster relief bill for Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane Sandy left more than 100 people dead and destroyed about 400,000 homes and other buildings.

    Today, the Senate will begin debating a bill that was supposed to be disaster recovery funds for those devastated by the storm. But so many special-interest projects were added on that the $60.4 billion request has turned into a farce. Roughly $28 billion of the request is marked for future disaster-mitigation projects.

    It includes:

    The bill also seeks federal funding for things that are provided on a state and local level, or by nonprofits and communities, such as food for food banks.

    As Heritage visiting fellow Matt Mayer explains, “[S]etting aside whether these projects have merit, a supplemental spending request to deal with a current crisis is not the appropriate vehicle to propose new spending projects.” Items have been tacked onto the bill that should be debated for the regular federal budget, not disaster funding.

    The way the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responds to disasters—and the type of disasters that it responds to—are issues that need serious consideration. Hurricane Sandy is the type of disaster that FEMA should be responsible for, but using a legitimate disaster funding request as an opportunity for piling on all kinds of unrelated money is irresponsible and insulting to the victims of the disaster.

    Adding injury to taxpayers, the Administration did not propose any ways to pay for the $60.4 billion cost of the bill. In the dire budget situation, when Congress and the President are already tasked with averting the fiscal cliff, coming up with any extra money isn’t an easy request—and only necessary funds should qualify for immediate disaster relief. Mayer estimates that “Removing unnecessary items from the Administration’s request yields a reduced request of $12.8 billion in supplemental funds. These funds should be provided only after being offset by spending reductions.”

    Americans believe in coming to the aid of those who are hurting. Whether in Connecticut or New York, a devastated school community or a hurricane-ravaged neighborhood, we will rebuild. We must help meet the immediate needs of these communities while we carefully consider longer-term solutions.

    Quick Hits:

    • Speaking in Newtown, Connecticut, yesterday, President Obama said, “In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens—from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators—in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
    • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fainted last week after becoming dehydrated from a stomach virus. She suffered a concussion when she fainted and is resting this week, meaning she will miss testifying at congressional hearings about the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
    • Reports have surfaced that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has offered to raise tax rates on top earners and to raise the U.S. debt limit.
    • “While the Obama Administration prepares for another round of nuclear negotiations with Iran, Congress has been ratcheting up sanctions on Iran,” reports Heritage’s James Phillips.
    • Obamacare isn’t turning out as it was predicted by the Congressional Budget Office. Heritage’s health care experts are exposing 12 Days of Obamacare Surprises.
    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    36 Responses to Morning Bell: Rebuilding Communities

    1. USMC Retired says:

      Each and every add-on should be identified by name of sponsor in the bill and on the floor before a vote. In addition, the new Heritage president may want to identify which of the sponsors he is friends with as he did by indentifying Harry Reid as his friend.

      • Mel Folk says:

        I agree, Please identify each and every one of the sponsors of these add-on spending proposal to this Bill. American citizens need to know which Representatives and Senators are totally out of touch with reality. Don't they even recogonize that America is over $16Trillion dollars in debt. It should be a requirement that each Bill only have one issue it deals with and it should stand on its own with no tag-on issues. This is why our government spending is out of control. Please identify each of these sponsors so we may vote them out of office.

    2. Chris Scott says:

      My deepest sympathy to all the families of the children who were murdered by this cowardice act of violence and to all the children that survived

    3. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Politicians don't care, especially Barry O about building communities, all they care about is their life-long job. Ask your new fearless leader, "I quit the Senate", DeMint…When the pension and perks are large enough, look for another scam…Leader of Heritage…

      Keep in mind, Barry O isn't worried about a community…it's now time to go after the 2nd Amendment…Let's watch Boehner fold on this one…

    4. toledofan says:

      The tradegy in Connecticut is just that a human tradegy caused by a deranged killer who had no value for life. It's sad, but, I have to say when you consider the onslaught on Christian values, over the past 10 years or so, the continued onslaught of Christmas, the violence portrayed by Hollywood, video games and the general lack of concern for the unborn, this kind of insanity should be expected. We have drifted so far to the left, I hate to say, that we are going to see this kind of thing again because we continue to bridge to an anything goes society and have lost our moral compass. The politicans exemplify all that has gone wrong in reckless spending and the lack of any plans to strengthen the family and continue to push legislation that is bad for America rather than doing what is best for the country in general.

    5. Juan Martinez says:

      No mention of the nationwide cry for better gun control laws and enforcement? Here's what we need to do as a nation right now:
      1) renew and improve the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 under Bush, and lawmakers were too fearful to renew or even discuss.
      2) A/R-15's with 30-round magazines? What better weapon for killing a lot of people quickly? Sorry "sportsmen", you folks don't need these to take down a deer, or a squirrel. Ban them.
      3) I believe that all weapons in existence on December 15, 1791, should be covered by the 2nd Amendment: swords, knives, and muzzle-loading rifles and pistols. Semi-automatic hand guns? Of course not. These are for killing a lot of people quickly, not for serving a well-regulated militia needed for the security of a free state.
      4) Any american citizen who wants to "keep and bear arms" must be a member of a well regulated militia – and I don't mean the red-neck crazies, racists, and survivalists.

      Time for sanity.

      • Bobbie says:

        Did the assault weapons ban work in the first place? NOPE! Whatever weapons are available to the enemy, people can be one step ahead! The reason there was no specification on WHAT ARMS TO BEAR UNDER the "right to bear arms" is because the founders new the minds of men would advance way beyond muskets Quit insulting their intelligence and your own. How does your collective reasoning propose evil will follow your collective laws of ignorance? People in gun ban areas are unfairly targeted by those evil beings who lets nothing hold them back. On your # 4, who do you mean?
        Wizen up Mr. Martinez, it is time for sanity!

    6. Lloyd Scallan says:

      What is happening in this country today can be summed up in one word, "transformation". This Congress, both Dems and Repbs, are giving Obama what he demanded when he won in 2008, "transform" this nation. The question is into what? Many on the right said that this nation would not be recognizable in a few years. It appears that every day they were correct. How can the people of our country allow our homeland to be destroyed by a Marxist and totally inept group of lackeys that have no intentions of saving the America we grew-up in?

    7. Lawrence Dewey says:

      When one considers the series of "natural" disasters throughout the nation and the inability of the Federal government to address only the issue at hand for funding, perchance it is time for the several states to be responsible for their own disaster problems. Why should people in Nevada pay for hurricane problems here on the Gulf Coast. should not that disaster potential be a part of the cost of living along the Gulf? Damage as a result of armed conflict is a reasonable and proper role of the Federal Government. I would challenge this role.

      • KHM says:

        @Lawrence Dewey, You are so correct. A few years ago a town in North Dakota was flooded. It did not ask for or receive FEMA/HUD/ or any other alphabet federal agency's "help". The citizens and those from around the community and the state pitched in and cleaned up and rebuilt. They understand that the nearby river will overflow after a heavy rainy season. This is what all Americans should be like. Look at how badly O's regime, ie FEMA did in helping Sandy's victims yet they get praise.

      • KHM says:

        @ Lawrence Dewey, I posted a previous comment/reply to yours but it must have been edited. I agree with you about the role of Federal Gov't in these natural disasters. I sure don't see it in the Constitution. Unlike the Katrina victims and those hit by Sandy there is an example of personal responsibility. In North Dakota a town was flooded and badly damaged by a raging river. The local residents joined together to sandbag berms around buildings, etc. After the flod water ebbed they and their neighbors in surrounding areas and from across the state started the cleanup and rebuilding effort. They did not ask for relief from FEMA. HUD or any other Fed agency. They did it themselves. Private individuals donated billions in $ and goods to help Katrina's victims. Where did all that money go? From what I understand, donations were much slower to come in for Sandy relief,perhaps because of that experience.
        The key thing is that there should be funding if the Fed is going to get involved and there should not be all these riders attached to such a bill.

    8. PaulE says:

      Once again, Washington uses a tragedy as an opportunity to waste more taxpayer money on things that have nothing to do with the event at hand. Truly pathetic!

    9. Steve says:

      Typical political hacks jump on the gravy train on every bill that comes through congress!
      They can only do that because of the phrase on all the bills submitted is " and for other purposes" !!!!
      That single phrase has cost this country billions wasted on political pet projects, payment for campaign support and contributions etc.!

      Get rid of that phrase and subsistute "and for no other purpose! It would literally save billions of dollars!

    10. Leonard says:

      Where in the constitution does it allow the Federal government to provide funds.

    11. Mary.......WI says:

      Hmmmmm? Can anyone guess what Kathleen Sebelius will do with all that money for HHS?!

      Shouldn't states have a rainy day fund to help offset costs of major disasters? SHoldn't the federal government have a raining day fund for nationwide disasters?

      Relief would be possible for many if politicians would STOP adding monetary requests for obscene additional spending. I hate paying taxes because of the foul ways the government wastes money!

      Put a housewife in control of the budget and she will cut it down in a heartbeat because WE are in charge of making ends meet every month with our household budgets.

      Definitely a broken government! FIRE ALL OF THEM! They are NOT listening to We the "informed" PEOPLE!

    12. Tom Sinyard says:

      With the clowns we have in Congress, along with uninformed voters and, maybe most of all, political correctness, is it any wonder that we're broke? What no foreign army could do to defeat us, we are doing to ourselves.Maybe a good. old fashioned financial depression would set things right??

    13. Andrew Conneen says:

      The babies that were denied their constitutional rights by Obama in Illinois when they survived their own abortions would be about the age of these children in Conn. now. And what of Kathleen Sibelius the Ex Kansas Gov. who sponsered the "official" state abortionist during her tenure. Where are these children? Did anyone suggest doctor control?… Yes! I guess someone did!

    14. Richard says:

      Can you say "Agenda 21"?

    15. USAF Ret says:

      So let me see if I can summarize the current disaster recovery bill: Legislators are going to vote on a bill to help victims of disasters. The bill has a 46% "pad" for unspecified future expenditures and how this bankroll will be used will largely be left up to whomever is in office at the time (hint – the same losers that are there now or their kids) or the hugely ineffective FEMA bureaucrats. At the same time, no provisions for funding this fund has been identified. ARE WE CRAZY???????

      • PaulE says:

        You/ve summed up this legislation quite well. It's a glorified piggy bank, with no real controls on how the money will be spent, controlled by whomever can get their hands into the piggy bank the fastest.

      • pcj says:

        That's the usual routine – give it a fancy name that promises help where it is needed, toss in a chunk of money for the bill and pad it well with giveaways to friends and donors to the bill sponsors. Remember the stimulus bill? Or the Patient Protective Act (aka Obamacare), TARP to rescue ailing banks, etc. If the Sandy victims are lucky, they will get maybe 20% of the funds allocated for the bill? The administrative costs are huge, you know…..

    16. HappyClinger says:

      I do not believe it is the job of the federal government to provide disaster relief. That should be done at the state and local level, in the areas prone to those disasters. The risk should be borne by those who live in those areas. We all know that Americans are generous and caring, and will give aid voluntarily when needed – unless they believe the federal government will take care of it. And obviously, the federal government is not up to the task anyway.

    17. Leith N. Wood says:

      Government funds were cut off by Obama and congress in 2011 for school safety, because of budget problems. Newtown took advantage of the help in 2000. I do not believe Obama's words, because he lies to the country and the world to push his socialist program. American culture is in a deep, black hole. What do you expect with God dismissed, along with the Constitution, common sense and value judgements lost in politically correct nonsense! Mental health help needs to be more accesible to those needing help.

    18. Harry Adams says:

      This act by an evil person is truly horrible and brought mock tears to our presidents eyes. The equially horror of thousands of unborn children being slaughtered annually is not even considered! These children's life begins at conception, but no tears are shed for them. What a tragic double standard!!

    19. do we yield the ability to defend your ourselve to an unaccountable boby that cant explain where the money is?

    20. Ben C. says:

      Ahh – the transformation from personal responsibility and liberty to government dependence and mandated conformity. It took the 'liberals" sixty years and they have accomplished their goal. As for "gun control" we know the reason for the Second Amendment is to provide a means for citizens to protect themselves for a trynannical government. When the military reverts to muskets and horseback then I'm all for it. With Rights we have Resonsibilities but that doesn't fit with mandated conformity. Yes, we have lost our moral compass and until we find it again we are toast.

    21. Ron W. Smith says:

      Good piece, Amy. There are so many things wrong with "politics as usual" that hearing of the add-ons to emergency relief bills is no surprise. Until voters become intolerant of political tactics that actually do harm to many for the sake of a few, we'll just end up further and further in trouble in this country, more and more divided, and certainly less and less a model to the world. Our fiscal troubles are, in no small way, easily connected to the influence of special interests, bills looking like Christmas trees decorated with add-ons that on their own would have little chance of passage.

    22. Jim says:

      Adding expenditures to a specific bill that have absolutely nothing to do with the bill should be regarded as proof positive that the person adding the nonsense to the bill should be brought before the ethics committee. Irresponsible mismanagement should be regarded as criminal in nature and the person should loose all committee assignments, suffer a significant loss of salary and pension monies. There must be consequences for inane activity. Fisheries, roof repairs and a 200 million dollar credit card for the secretary of HHS to spend as she desires, the madness just never stops. And then to add insult to injury they want 28 billion for future disaster-mitigation. How about someone putting through legislation that make it mandatory all bills contain one specific idea and that the bill must be limited to twenty pages or less!

    23. Ronald Ceres says:

      It is sad to see our president and many progressives turning this deplorable event into a political forum attacking our Second Amendment.
      Those in government who are using this event for political capital have no soul, conscience, or common sense.

      • PaulE says:

        Congratulations! Your last sentence just defined what a true progressive is quite well. For progressives, it's all about leveraging any crisis for their political agenda. That's their sole focus to advance the cause of socialism by whatever means necessary.

    24. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      I heard that along with the money for Sandy victims to rebuild, was money for homeland security and Congressmen's pet projects. No wonder an appropriations bill with so many unrelated amendments, this close to
      the holidays, is called a "Christmas tree."

    25. Norwood McDaniel says:

      You overlooked that hundres of new Volts that they are trying to pull also.

    26. Bobbie says:

      How come there's no funding from the national disaster budget? There should be plenty! Whatever this government isn't funding according to their oath of office but needs funding due to the noncompliance to do their said duty, eliminate the special interest funding yesterday! If we're all in this together no special interest would benefit by government funding by discrimination and enough money could rebuild what the natural disaster caused….

      Where's a budget? Responsible people with intelligence, follow a budget!!! The people running government are beneath America's expectations.

    27. Bobbie says:

      It's evil like this we have a right to bear arms. It's in "no gun zones" this evil finds easy access. Evil comes from controlled influence stemming from mouths of public discourse such as Lois Farrakhan and his command to kill white babies before they turn evil. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Van Jones, Chris Mathews, Ed Schultz, Maxine Waters, Joy Behar and millions of minions. all with public audience, all express their opinionated hatred for their fellow man to influence vulnerable minds.

      Public authority guilts parents to convince parents to drug their kids because government or their union buds eliminated discipline that's worked throughout history but without it teachers can't handle kids that aren't drugged?!!!! Many insincere teachers dummying down the minds by indoctrinating personal wrongful opinions as fact disallowing the mind to develop healthy perception and intelligence, based on truth and actual facts. Grown adults stereo typing skin color of no culture. They are diluting content of character and replacing it with someone's personal perceptions giving no one an individual chance. Government abuse taking over a free nation builds evil all around us in those empowered by government and throughout society. Government in unconstitutional areas taking responsibilities they don't stand accountable to causes this.

      One and two steps the President can take immediately is advocating self control and removing public access from those that are paid to freely exploit their hatred by mis-characterizing America(ns) using misinterpretations of America's founding and removing the public slander of honorable Americans to do it. Another step is enforcing laws where punishment deters the crime and circumstances are dealt with in America's court of law. Another step he can take is aside where he knows he's unconstitutional and an intrusion.

      No public policy or law is going to stop evil. The childish "no guns allowed" signs never worked. Self defense is the only chance.

    28. Roger D says:

      Band aids will not stop the carnage by gun violence. If you lock down the schools, how about churches, shopping malls, theatres and on and on and on. I firmly believe that the root cause of the problem is not with guns or security. It goes to the conditioning of young people's brains who are watching relentless carnage and taking part in the video games they spend hour upon hour playing. I believe that eventually they become conditioned to think that this is the way life is. The weaker ones, mentally, think it would be fun to do it in real life. God is systematically being turned away.. Until we get God back into our homes and institutions, and ban all violent video games and movies, the problem will increase and not lessen, no matter how much money is thrown at the problem, no matter how many police and security procedures are installed or new laws are enacted. Australia banned and bought back guns in the early 90s. There are now, more guns in Australia than there were before the laws were tightened and guns were bought back..

    29. Cindy Smith says:

      I sent an open email to Bill O'Reilly at FoxNews. I am a conservative and a registered Republican, but I'm not resting or counting on my conservative credentials here to convince anyone to agree with me. I am speaking as someone who knows gun safety and how to shoot a gun, which consist of knowledge and skills that many Americans lack including a lot of otherwise well-meaning members of the House and Senate. I hope some legislators actually read my open email to Bill O'Reilly. Here it is:

      Dear Mr. O'Reilly,

      Although I was raised in a big city, I learned how to shoot a gun on my grandparents' farm when I was six years old. As a result, I was taught gun safety first; if I didn't show my family I understood gun safety and obeyed the rules, I was not allowed to shoot a gun in the first place. Important gun safety rules include:

      (1) Do not point a gun at another human being (unless someone is threatening to kill you) even if the safety is on. You do not EVER count on the safety because sometimes the safety doesn't work and, if you squeeze the trigger with the safety on in the belief that the bullet won't come out, sometimes the bullet comes out anyway and you can kill someone.

      (2) When you are carrying a gun, always point the gun towards the ground because if you accidentally squeeze the trigger, you can kill someone.

      (3) When you are carrying a gun, do not press the barrel of the gun because that can cause the gun to backfire. If a gun backfires, the bullet comes out, even if the safety is on, and you can kill someone.

      (4) Assume every gun is loaded (see Rules 1-3).

      (5) When you are carrying or holding a gun, keep your finger off the trigger because, if you accidentally squeeze the trigger, you can kill someone (see Rules 1-4). Only put your finger on the trigger and aim if you are ready to shoot the gun.

      (6) If you are a child, you should never pick up a gun, hold a gun, carry a gun, or even touch a gun unless your parent(s) or responsible adults tell you (with your parents' or legal guardians' permission) that it's okay.

      (7) You should not allow a child to pick up a gun, hold a gun, carry a gun, or even touch a gun unless the parents or legal guardians of the child tell you it is okay and you are assured that the child understands gun safety rules and will obey them. If a child disobeys even one rule, forbid or prevent the child from even touching the gun until you have notified the parents or legal guardians of the child of the violation, and then let the parents or legal guardians decided whether or not or when to allow the child to touch a gun again.

      (8) Keep guns out of the reach of children unless the children are properly trained in gun safety (See Rules 1-7).

      There are a lot more rules about the proper use of firearms. The reason I am mentioning these rules is that Americans do not need MORE gun laws but BETTER gun laws. Most gun laws focus on restricting access to guns including certain kinds of guns. These are the WRONG laws. Americans need BETTER gun laws including:

      (1) Law(s) that require people who want to buy guns to take a course in gun safety and the proper use of firearms before they are given a license to purchase and own a gun. American laws require people to take driving tests (written tests and actual driving tests) before they are given a license to drive a car; similarly, American laws should require people to take gun tests (written tests and actual gun tests on firing ranges) before they are given a license to purchase and use a gun.

      That's the only new Federal law I think America needs. Other laws on the books can be kept or debated. Obviously, children shouldn't be allowed to buy guns, and adults shouldn't be allowed to buy guns who are convicted of violent crimes or have a history of mental illness in which they state a desire to harm other people or themselves. Americans don't need MORE gun laws except ONE: See above Law 1.

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