Vermont senator: GOP call for disaster-relief offsets is 'absurd'

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., slammed House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a USA Today op-ed on Friday, calling the Virginia Republican's demand that disaster-relief expenses be offset with cuts elsewhere "absurd."

"I find the argument made by Congressman Eric Cantor, calling for funding offsets as a condition of disaster relief funds, very curious," Sanders wrote. The senator represents Vermont, a state dealing with flooding in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

Sanders criticized Cantor for supporting the bailout of Wall Street, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tax breaks and loopholes for the wealthy without demanding that those expenses be offset, too.

"Apparently, only when struggling American communities are devastated by disaster does Mr. Cantor believe it is necessary to have an offset," Sanders wrote. "This absurd logic means that whether it is Hurricane Irene today or any future disaster, we might have to cut nutrition programs, Medicare, Medicaid or education before we can rebuild a devastated community."

There are "fair and responsible" ways to address the deficit, Sanders wrote, and "ignoring the needs of communities ravaged by disaster is not one of them."

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