Siren & Sound Waves: Why President Trump shouldn’t pay the farmers’ debts for wildfires

Like Alan, we live in an active fire season. But unlike the summer of 2014, we can breathe a huge sigh of relief as much of the western United States is in a cone…

Siren & Sound Waves: Why President Trump shouldn't pay the farmers' debts for wildfires

Like Alan, we live in an active fire season. But unlike the summer of 2014, we can breathe a huge sigh of relief as much of the western United States is in a cone of fire, meaning most of the danger is already out of control.

There have been no major wildfires for at least three weeks — that’s the longest period in over a year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In response to these conditions, the president announced this week that he has authorized the National Guard to help deal with the cost of fighting fires. Over the years, presidents have signed signing statements refusing to fund the expenses incurred by wildfires, but so far, they appear to be following orders from the office of the president to mobilize the National Guard and use funds from the Disaster Relief Fund, which is the account that gets use during times of disaster.

With officials claiming that government agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service are leaner and better staffed now than ever before, many suspect that the government is literally paying the firefighters to burn down homes and forests.

The San Antonio Express-News alleges that during the 2014 fires, a U.S. Forestry Service official in California was quoted as saying, “If [the fires] don’t burn down all the national forests, the government is going to have to make people pay for it.”

Sirens? Yeah.

Watching President Trump’s support of the men and women in the U.S. military and police forces in their role to protect Americans from the destruction of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Maria and the catastrophic wildfires, it’s very much at odds with the heavy debt that’s piling up on the nation that only the president seems capable of refusing to pay.

After the deadly storms, President Bush asked Congress for $162 billion in aid to help rebuild, an amount almost six times larger than the American aid that Obama proposed two years later in 2012. And while there’s a lot to be said for how it’s handled by different administrations, that cost comparison is almost incomprehensible.

What would happen if President Trump refused to pay the government to cover the wildfire costs?

So, what’s the problem?

According to Thomas Tidwell, Forest Service director, “We have been out working these fires well in excess of 30 days… It’s the longest firefighting season on record. …On record, this is a great era, but the record will still stand.”

While these are not the kind of bills that threaten our American dream, the cost is enormous.

In an article at Forbes, author Lourdes Suseiro writes that over the past three years alone, the U.S. Forest Service spent nearly $13 billion battling wildfires.

This is an outrageous amount of money that many citizens can’t even afford to rebuild. And for the life of me, I can’t understand how people can care about the cause of a fire but not be willing to help the American people rebuild their homes.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that there aren’t already billions of dollars in related contracts—the bill for fires this year alone is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars—but the reality is there isn’t enough money being made to pay the bill.

While many of us have lost thousands, if not millions, of dollars over the years, Trump has yet to respond with both the capacity and willpower to give the firemen what they truly need.

By doing so, he could ultimately save the taxpayers from a financial black hole and help the country avert an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Maybe he’ll change his mind.

Craig, a Democrat, is host of Sirens & Sound Waves on The Blaze TV and author of The Marvelous Marshmallows: Debt and Decline in a Wild, Wild Country.

Maddie, an independent, is a 2017 Augustus Award recipient and journalist with National Public Radio. She also writes a money column for Texas Watchdog.

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