Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Obama and Texas Wildfires: Big Hat, No Cattle

When I hear this famous Texas saying, I immediately think of President Obama and how he feels about Texas.  All talk.  No action.  Then again, the action of denying Texas federal disaster aid for wildfires raging over million acres speaks volumes.

Last month, President Obama spoke with a Dallas reporter about the federal budget and denied politics were in play against Texas when shuttles were awarded to other states.  Our President says he loves Texas, despite losing by approximately 10 points in the last presidential election and even professes “You better believe I’m not going not going to write off Texas … we’re going to compete” when discussing his reelection campaign for 2012.

So, riddle me this: Why was Texas’ federal disaster aid declaration request denied?
Wildfires have raged since November 2010 with over 2.3 million acres charred igniting 9,000+ wildfires across our great state. Two people have been killed and hundreds of homes burned to the ground. Texas families are losing their homes and their businesses and yet federal disaster aid is denied that could help citizens obtain low-interest loans and tax breaks to help with rebuilding.

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas and we are loud and proud on how we can take care of our own, but let’s put things in perspective. The Texas Forest Service says this of the current wildfire situation:
  • Red flag warnings have been issued across much of West Texas today with critical fire weather conditions predicted.
  • Texas Forest Service responded to two (2) large fires yesterday.
  • We are currently working on seven (7) major fires that span 586,624 acres.
  • 207 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans.
That’s 81% of Texas under a burn ban.

The criteria used by FEMA regarding federal disaster law is simple when evaluating a Governor’s request for a major disaster declaration.  As I read through the list provided by FEMA, it appears the Texas wildfires should have been approved for aid per the primary factors.

So, why was Texas denied when FEMA’s mission is to “support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards”?

And why hasn’t our President used his presidential authority to approve our request? After all, even children are taught that the President is the Chief of Government and the boss of every governmental worker by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

Big hat. No cattle.

Texas needs to appeal the denial and I still have hope President Obama will change his mind.  After all, he has reversed previous decision to deny disaster aid as in the case of Connecticut citizens affected by storms and floods last year. And our President has even approved the U.S. send cargo planes to Mexico to help fight fires.

Other states are provided federal aid for less damage and our federal government helps other countries, so Texans could still get federal assistance with cheap loans and tax breaks to help rebuild, right?!

Or, are personal politics being played by our President and his administration? Is Texas being punished like a child who talked back to their parent? So many questions.  So little time.

The weather outlook remains critical as our President arrives in Texas today to discuss immigration and attend a fundraiser for his 2012 reelection campaign in Austin.  The immigration speech will help reduce the amount his campaign has to reimburse the government for political travel to his fundraisers.  Good for him.

Maybe instead of asking Texans for money, he should tour the devastation first hand that will make him reconsider his previous denial.  And maybe those Texans contributing to his reelection campaign should help their own here:

Texas Department of Agriculture – STAR Fund

PK Firefighter Relief FundWest Texas Fire Relief Fund

West Texas Food Bank

Cattlewomen Care Texas Wildfire Relief Fund

American Red Cross

Even though our President and his administration do not feel “spreading the wealth” in Texas is warranted, please consider donating to one of the links listed above to help Texas in her time of need. Don’t leave it to someone else. You ARE someone else.

Thank you and God Bless Texas!

Big Government