The American public wants money spent on disasters — cost be damned

May 29, 2013

Nearly six in 10 Americans believe that the federal government should provide funds to states affected by natural disasters without having to cut spending in other areas to do so, according to a new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll.

Fifty-nine percent of all respondents say federal emergency aid need not be offset by cuts in other parts of the budget -- a number that includes a majority (52 percent) of self-identified Republicans as well as nearly seven in 10 Democrats.

Those numbers come in the aftermath of a tornado that devastated the town of Moore, Okla., and led some conservatives, including Oklahoma's own Sen. Tom Coburn, to insist that any federal spending on the cleanup effort had to come from some other corner of the federal budget. “He will ask his colleagues to sacrifice lower priority areas of the budget to help Oklahoma,” spokesman John Hart told Post Politics the day after the tornado.

Coburn's view is in the minority, according to the poll, with just over one in three Republicans (36 percent) saying they think any federal disasters should be offset.

The poll results suggest that even amid an active debate in Washington -- a debate that will get more active this summer and fall -- about the federal budget/debt/spending, there is clear majority support for expenditures on disaster areas -- no matter the cost.

While peoples' relationship with their government -- how much? where? when? -- remains very much an open question, in this particular regard there is more consensus.

Bachmann won't run for re-election: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced early Wednesday that she would not seek a fifth term in Congress, a move that gives Republicans a better chance of holding onto her seat. Bachmann's district leans Republican, but she barely won re-election there last year. The tea party-backed congresswoman said her decision was not related to Democrat Jim Graves's recent announcement that he would challenge her again or a federal investigation into allegations of financial impropriety in her 2012 presidential campaign.

Joe Miller files "Statement of Candidacy": Joe Miller, the tea party-backed conservative activist who defeated Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in the 2010 GOP primary only to lose to her write-in campaign in the general election, filed a Statement of Candidacy document to run for the Senate earlier this month. Miller had previously announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a run against Sen. Mark Begich (D), so the move is not a total surprise. A Statement of Candidacy form must be filed when a individual raises or spends more than $5,000 or another person does so on behalf of the candidate. Miller did not respond to a request for a comment late Tuesday. Politico first reported the filing.

A Miller bid could complicate Republican hopes of winning Begich's seat. The conservative candidate made a series of missteps that proved costly in the 2010 race. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R), viewed as a more electable candidate, has also formed an exploratory committee.

Fixbits:

The House Judiciary Committee is reportedly investigating whether Attorney General Eric Holder lied under oath.

A pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC is enlisting the help of some major Democratic donors.

Assistant House Minority Leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) is disputing reports that he endorsed former congressman Joe Baca (D-Calif.). So is Rep. Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.). Baca insisted Clyburn made his endorsement in writing.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued a subpoena seeking more information about Benghazi.

Anthony Weiner gained some ground in the New York City mayor's race. But he still trails City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The Senate GOP Conference asked the Supreme Court to invalidate President Obama's January 2012 recess appointments.

Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa P. Jackson will become Apple’s top environmental officer.

Obama joked about lipstick on his collar.

Must-reads:

"Obama back in New Jersey with friend Chris Christie to survey Hurricane Sandy recovery" -- David Nakamura, Washington Post

"Hillary Clinton Is Missing From Twitter" -- Ruby Cramer, Buzzfeed

Updated at 9:44 a.m.

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Sean Sullivan · May 28, 2013