What will the victims of Hurricane Harvey have to look forward to after the storm?
Will they have health care? Will they have rental assistance? Will they have extended unemployment insurance? Will homeless shelters have enough beds? Will Food Stamps and school lunches be available? Maybe. But, perhaps not.
There was a time when our legislators’ and government’s support for and generosity to those in need was unquestionable. But not so now. Volunteers have to go back to their own lives. Relief workers cycle out of deployments and emergency mobilizations end. Volunteers have to go back to their own lives.
Trump and the Republicans want the ACA-Obamacare to “fail under its own weight.” Promised corporate tax cuts are undercutting the market for Low Income Housing Tax Credits that have fueled the cost of constructing affordable housing for over two decades (After Katrina it provided equity for nearly 20,000 new rental housing units.). FEMA assistance capped $30,000. Food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized rental housing and subsidized schools lunches have already been cut or are under threat by this Congress and this President. What if you were uninsured?
Yes. Harvey has brought unimaginable despair to thousands. The storm, rain, flooding, loss of life and property is devastating. Local and state resources have been stretched to the limit. National Guard and volunteer resources flooded into in Texas. They are there now.
The question is what comes next? If you are too, poor, sick or old to leave; what do you do? What if you are here “illegally,” and afraid to seek to permanent housing elsewhere? What do you do?
This administration and the Republican party have made it clear that you are on your own. If you are poor, old, sick or an immigrant–they have no use for you.
Harvey and the consequent conditions it will bring to the surface will surely be an inconvenience to Trump and company. It is interrupting the most recent campaign for tax reform and tax cuts for corporations and the 1%. Will the distraction cause them to become irritable as is their tendency; or will it evoke some semblance of understanding the human condition of the poor, black and brown in America?
What impact will the mean-spirited, “get government out of our lives” stinginess of the Trump administration and the Republicans have in the recovery efforts of the thousands of families, businesses, and individuals post-Harvey?
The prolonged, trauma and struggle after the storm could very likely cause more misery and long-term challenges, stress, and discord than the havoc wrought by Harvey, itself.
Even more than Charlottesville, the coming weeks and months will expose the heart of this administration and the “ruling” party. We will learn what kind of nation we have become. The actions of our leaders will speak even more loudly to its citizens and the world. Who are we? For what does American stand?