I have good friends a few miles north of here in Vermont who will be reeling from Hurricane Irene for months. One of my favorite places, Wilmington — just south of Mount Snow ski resort — was completely flooded and Route 9, the major road to the town (and all East-West travel in southern Vermont) will be out for weeks. It’s going to be a long haul getting back.

Despite the devastation, we now hear that House Republicans are holding FEMA hostage by demanding the $3.6 billion in emergency storm relief has to be offset by cuts in other programs.

So where should we cut? National Priorities Project has this handy list of spending priorities. I bet we could find some money in there.

But, for my money, I think Vermont taxpayers should take a look at this tool to figure out which trade-offs work for them. Turns out they will be paying more than $750 million this year to support the Pentagon’s budget. In the past decade, they’ve paid more than $2.2 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including nearly $250 million this year alone. Those would be the same wars that the Wartime Contracting Commission just announced lost as much as $60 billion “due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption.” I bet some of that could be spent at home helping them rebuild….