President Trump’s Oval Office address last night proved to be just another rehash of his shopworn rhetoric about immigration, ultimately failing to make a compelling case for why Democrats should cave and grant funding for his pet project, the Mexican border wall. Unable to achieve the media win he so desperately needs, it appears Trump has decided to manufacture another crisis to distract from his latest failing.
This morning, Trump took to Twitter and made the stunning announcement that he has ordered FEMA to cease the funding it gives to California to fight forest fires — which also means victims will be cut off from aid.
JUST IN: President Trump Wednesday morning announced that he has ordered FEMA to stop sending wildfire aid to California. This comes after FEMA announced Tuesday that it has extended the deadline for victims of the Woolsey and Camp fires to apply for aid. https://t.co/nVh5908lyi
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 9, 2019
He accused the liberal state of negligence, saying that there is no “proper Forest Management” and that fires would never happen if there were. He explained he will not allow funding to resume until the state gets its “act together” which he believes is “unlikely.” He ended by calling the situation in California a disgrace in terms of “lives and money.”
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
CBS Los Angeles reports that “FEMA has so far approved 6,646 applications and more than $48.7 million in aid related to the Woolsey Fire and the Camp Fire, according to the agency’s website.” The deadline to apply for aid was extended just last night, which may have prompted the President’s furious outburst.
Even by Trump standards, this is a deeply evil move. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to flee their homes and many lost everything they had to the flames; long after the ashes have cooled, the innocent people affected still face a monumental task in piecing their lives back together and need FEMA to help stay afloat.
It truly adds insult to injury. By any metric, California’s firefighting and environment services are top notch. The problem is that they face a Herculean task, one which will only grow worse as climate change makes these wildfires.
It also must be mentioned that the president who is cutting FEMA funding — which will, in turn, exacerbate the damage done by climate change-driven fires — denies climate change itself. Not only does he refuse to tackle the problem, he’s actively ensuring it will be even worse.
President Trump is intentionally putting American lives at stake for cheap politics. He knows California is a blue state so he simply cares less about it. He knows he won’t hurt his reelection chances by endangering the Democratic stronghold, and at the same time the move offers him a chance to excite the more cynical members of his base who will surely be happy to see him sticking it to the “coastal elites” and “liberal Hollywood.” The fact that California is the country’s most populous state, with over 39 million inhabitants matters little to them.
Quite frankly, in a sane political environment, this would be an impeachable offense. Trump offered no evidence that the wildfire problem is because of a lack of “proper forest management,” meaning it’s just the latest in a long string of calculated lies.
This sudden announcement comes just two months after “Camp Fire,” the deadliest wildfire in California history, and the most expensive natural disaster in the world last year, claimed at least 86 lives. The tweet also comes as the prolonged federal government shutdown, which is Trump’s fault, challenges some of FEMA’s operations due to lack of funding.
Thankfully, just yesterday California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom promised $105 million in new fire-fighting funding. Our president may not care if Californians die, but at least the local government is composed of empathetic, competent patriots.