The ethos of Ebenezer Scrooge is now infecting federal disaster relief.
It was inevitable that this bipartisan practice -- helping storm-tossed Americans, regardless of the cost -- would become politicized. After all, if "tea party" Republicans would hold the debt ceiling hostage, in exchange for a heavy ransom of spending cuts, then naturally we would expect them to insist that Hurricane Irene relief be fully financed only if the money is swiped from other programs.
Eric Cantor, GOP No. 2 in the House, summed up the ethos Monday on Fox News: "We will find the (Irene) money if there is a need for additional money. But those moneys are not unlimited, and we have said we have to offset that which has already been funded."