Biden administration repeats message hurricane relief ‘not political’ as Kamala Harris talks about equity

Vice President Kamala Harris does not seem to be on the same page as the rest of the Biden administration in her comments about “equity” in hurricane relief.

President Joe Biden and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre have said repeatedly since hurricane Ian hit Florida and other southern states that hurricane relief would be “above politics,” even as Harris insists that those with lower incomes should get special treatment so they can level the playing field. 

“We don’t want to make this about politics. We don’t want to make this about, you know, red states versus, you know, blue states.  This is — this is about the American people that are, you know, families and everyday people who are on the ground who need the assistance,” Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing Friday.

On the other hand, Harris said the same day, “It is our lowest-income communities and communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues not of their own making. And so we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity.”

DeSantis caught in crossfire

In between the two factions is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis initially praised Biden for quickly declaring a federal disaster when the storm hit and pledging aid.

After hearing Harris’s comments, however, he said the idea of using equity to issue aid was “ridiculous” and an attempt at playing “identity politics.”

“I think she’s trying to play identity politics with a storm and a natural disaster, and I think it’s ridiculous,” DeSantis said Monday. “That is not going to happen, it’s totally not appropriate. You don’t have to politicize every single tragedy in this country.”

“The impacts spanned all demographics, all income levels,” he added. “We just want to make sure people have a chance to get back on their feet and get moving forward again.”

Word salad

Jean Pierre tried to draw a distinction between long-term relief monies and the FEMA response to Ian.

“That is not what the vice president said,” she said. “The vice president was clearly talking about long-term investment, not FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Aid] for hurricane response efforts. The vice president and the president have been clear that the federal government has been and will continue to be there for all Americans recovering from these devastating storms as we’re seeing the president and first lady do today and will see them do clearly in Florida on Wednesday.”

But if Harris wasn’t talking about giving some people aid before others or more than others, what did she actually mean by linking them to “equity”? Or was she just throwing up some more word salad to appease a liberal base looking for buzzwords with no real understanding of how those concepts play out in real life?