Flint, Michigan has been in national news lately because of its dangerous water crisis. Lead from old pipes has caused drinking water for the entire city to become essentially undrinkable and poisonous to human beings. While celebrities and charities rush to the aid of the citizens of Flint, the Republican members of Congress have been far less helpful.
According to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, the Republican members of Congress have been completely unwilling to work with the Democrats and find a solution to help the people of Flint. In frustration, Reid has stated:
“I invite my Republican colleagues to come to the floor and explain to the country why this man-made disaster is not worth the attention of the Republican Party!”
Though many Republican senators have mentioned that their thoughts and prayers are with the people of Flint, they refuse to actually do anything to help them.
Since the Republicans have a platform that promotes small government, they feel that the government should not provide financial relief to the citizens of Flint. However, this attitude is exactly why the crisis has occurred in the first place. The Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, enacted ridiculously high tax cuts that left Michigan without any money to fix the water pipes before the situation got too bad. The thoughts and prayers of the Republicans would be far more useful if they were combined with any sort of funding to fix the problems in Flint, but the party repeatedly votes against any such suggestions.
Of course, Republican party leaders have responded to Harry Reid’s statements. Senate Majority Whip John Corbyn claims that the statements are merely an attempt to make the Republicans look cruel and heartless. The Democrats are also being criticized for bundling a relief package for Flint into a bipartisan energy bill. The Republicans focus on the fact that the national government is already in debt, so they say that helping Flint will just make everything worse.
However, the whole reason that Flint is in this unfortunate situation in the first place is due to a focus on small government and tax cuts. Republicans may be fine with spending half a trillion dollars on defense, but they seem to feel that the government should not spend money on the well-being of its citizens. A small amount of relief aid for Flint will not put a huge dent in the nation’s budget, but it will make a huge difference in the lives of the thousands of people facing lead poisoning. It is also worth noting that the Republican party has a history of forcing their party’s political agenda into unrelated, bipartisan bills, such as the anti-abortion legislation which ended up in a bill supposed to stop human trafficking. Republicans may complain about the Democrats actions violating their political standards, but it will help countless people.
The money that the Democratic senators are trying to send to Flint would primarily be used to replace the corroded lead pipes, and a small amount would also be used to treat people who are already suffering from lead poisoning. This help will be far more beneficial than the political ideologies and budget cuts of the Republicans. Since small government has failed to help Flint, it is up to the national government to ensure that people get the clean drinking water they have a right to receive.