Skip to comments.Compassionate Liberalism Part II: Blaming the Iraq War and Tax Cuts for New Orleans Flooding
Posted on 09/06/2005 6:02:48 AM PDT by Miami Vice
Once again instead of concern for their fellow citizens, liberals are trying to exploit a tragedy for political purposes. There are some liberals (and Democrats) who made the rather bizarre claim that funding the Iraq war in conjunction with Bushs tax cuts - caused funding for flood control projects in New Orleans to be cut thereby causing the flood.
Yet, ironically, they may have hoisted themselves by their own petard. While investigating the validity of these claims, evidence has been found that the actions of environmentalists may have contributed to the flooding of New Orleans rather than the war in Iraq and tax policy.
According to this Iraq war led to New Orleans flooding theory, there was a reduction in spending for construction and upgrade of the levees around New Orleans because of there were no federal funds available as a result of paying for the Iraq war and Bushs tax cuts. The proponents of this theory claim that if the levees were upgraded they would have been able to withstand Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans would not have been flooded.
Such Democratic Party luminaries as Clinton adviser Sidney Blumenthal, and Chris Kofinis - former Naderfactor.com strategist and Wesley Clark advocate -propagated this hypothesis.
Liberal media such as the Philadelphia Daily News, Der Speigel, Editors and Publishers, and David Corn.com also promulgated this theory.
Kofinis, responding to the Daily News article told the AP," As these facts get out, and the American people learn that decisions were made not to fund improvements of the levees because of Iraq, they will not be happy." (emphasis mine)
Blumenthal wrote in Der Speigel FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. But the Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war . In 2004, the Bush administration cut funding requested by the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for holding back the waters of Lake Pontchartrain by more than 80 percent. Additional cuts at the beginning of this year (for a total reduction in funding of 44.2 percent since 2001) forced the New Orleans district of the Corps to impose a hiring freeze. The Senate had debated adding funds for fixing New Orleans' levees, but it was too late. ( emphasis mine)
The Daily News stated, Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. (emphasis mine)
None of the NOTP articles mentioned tax cuts. Only one article quoted an Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) official, Al Naomi, as stating funds for flood control were going elsewhere albeit not as saying that the money was going for homeland security and the war in Iraq. Naomi also did not mention tax cuts.
Al Naomi is an ACE Project Manager for the New Orleans District. The Daily News quoted one NOTP article mentioning him, which said, The $750 million Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection project is another major Corps project, which remains about 20% incomplete due to lack of funds, said Al Naomi, project manager. That project consists of building up levees and protection for pumping stations on the east bank of the Mississippi River in Orleans, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Jefferson parishes .The Lake Pontchartrain project is slated to receive $3.9 million in the president's 2005 budget. Naomi said about $20 million is needed. "The longer we wait without funding, the more we sink," he said. "I've got at least six levee construction contracts that need to be done to raise the levee protection back to where it should be (because of settling)"
This is pretty damning stuff. Yet it never said Iraq War or tax cuts caused the funding reduction.
However, an August 10, 2004 Philadelphia Inquirer article also quoted Naomi, It's possible to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane, .It could take 20 years and at least $1 billion to raise the levees high enough and to build floodgates at the mouth of Lake Pontchartrain, Naomi said.  (emphasis mine)
It will take twenty years? This obviously changes the context of the comments by Blumenthal, the Daily News et al. How does the Bush 2006 budget prevent a 2005 flood of New Orleans because a project - that could not be completed for twenty years and would need $1 billion - was not given the funds desired?
Another omitted quote from Naomi is from the May 2005 edition of American Prospect - Clinton cabinet member Robert Reichs magazine. An article titled What would happen if a Category 5 hurricane were to hit New Orleans? quoted Naomi, New Orleans would be the "only city in the country or even the world" with Category 5 hurricane protections, Corps' senior project manager Al Naomi told me last November. But these ideas are in little more than a brainstorming stage at this point; whether the bureaucratic Corps can lurch into action quickly enough to protect a city faced with ever increasing vulnerabilities remains a serious question. " (emphasis mine)
Again, the idea is that nothing done by the ACE now would help. According to Naomi, the projects touted by Blumenthal and the others as those that would have prevented New Orleans from being flooded were still in their embryonic stage. Anything that needed to be done to protect New Orleans in the present should have been started ten or twenty years ago. This is an important fact, as we shall see.
Liberals and Democrats were so anxious to politicize the tragedy of the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina they forgot to mention this report which appeared in July 2004 Civil Engineering magazine: The budget for fiscal year 2005 proposed by President Bush in February recognized the gravity and exigency of the situation in coastal Louisiana.
Finally, liberals and Democrats have been discredited by the very person they chose to cite as the authoritative source for their proposition that President Bushs 2005 proposed budget reduction for funds for New Orleans flood control projects caused the disastrous flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
According to the 9-2-05 Miami Herald, Acknowledging delays in construction, Corps officials in Louisiana said that those projects weren't where the failures occurred. ''They did not contribute to the flooding of the city,'' said Al Naomi, a senior project manager. (emphasis mine) 
The facts are these. Despite what Democratic Party operatives, despite what liberal reporters are saying, there is no evidence Bushs budget prevented the building of flood prevention projects that would have spared New Orleans flooding. There is also no evidence that the war in Iraq or tax cuts prevented the funding. Any assertion of this is mere supposition and unsubstantiated supposition at that!
Indeed, quite the opposite is true. There were two very salient facts about the levee projects that can be learned from the NOTP articles the Daily News used.
One is that a new bidding process not the war in Iraq - caused the reduction. The 2-8-05 New Orleans Times-Picayune article states: (Windell Curole, executive director of the South Lafourche Levee District) was critical of a new method used by corps officials to rank projects by comparing the remaining benefits to be gained from completing a project to the cost of completion. Some corps staffers also aren't happy with the new method.... (emphasis mine)
Two is the ultimate irony. This was gleaned from the Daily News research - although not mentioned by it - environmentalists may have prevented building floodgates that would have prevented the flooding from Hurricane Katrina.
The 5-28-05 New Orleans Times-Picayune states, Under the original plan, floodgate-type structures would have been built at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes to block storm surges from moving from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain. Those plans were abandoned after environmental advocates successfully sued to stop the projects as too damaging to the wetlands and the lake's ecosystem, Naomi said. Now the corps wants to take another look using more environmentally sensitive construction than was previously available. (emphasis mine)[i]
While liberals are trying to blame Bush, a liberal media report indicates that environmentalists may be responsible!
Another bit of irony. There is at least one expert who claims the New Orleans levees would not make a difference in fact, they contributed to the problem. Deputy Director of the LSU Hurricane Center and Director of the Center for the Study Public Health Impacts by Hurricanes Ivor van Heerden said, The levees have literally starved our wetlands to death by directing all of that precious silt out into the Gulf of Mexico.
It will be sometime before inquiries and research are completed to determine what, if anything, could have been done to prevent the tragic flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina. If budget cuts, environmental lawsuits, bureaucratic malaise or anything else were responsible, we need to learn this.
However, the first priority is to rescue and provide for the survivors and to rebuild.
This, unfortunately, does not seem to be a priority with some liberals and Democrats. Anxious to regain the political power they possessed since the FDR administration, they are attempting to politically exploit the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina.
They have shown who they really are. They have shown they placed their desire for power before their desire to help people. They have placed politics before principle.
These are the people who want to control the government. Remember this when they ask for your vote next election day.
Not to mention the hotels and casinos bought with money that was supposed to go into upgrading the levees...
This is great. Bookmarked.
Do you know this for a fact? If so can you cite a source.
Yes, that is what they spent their money on for the last 15 years at least.
The NYT wins. In case of disaster in your area do absolutely nothing to save lives, protect property or relieve suffering. Your new assignment is to blame Bush, blame Bush and blame Bush. Got that? Good, together we will build a better America.
Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment last night (video soon to be linked on the FoxNews website), also noted several past NYTimes editorials that poo-pooed proposed Federal funding for levee/flood control projects as unnecessary or bad legislation, even as recent as April 2005.
Someone also needs to point out that Senator Landrieu is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and as such, commanded the clout to get the funding that, in retrospect, was needed to upgrade the levees. The President's budget is routinely dead on arrival when it reaches Congress, which exercises the actual power of the purse. Senator Landrieu had ample opportunity to get that funding restored, but she failed to do so.
Excellent post...just the ammo I needed to throw back at my Bush-hating father who, like so many others, are blaming GWB for the break in the levees because he cut funding to the COE so that he could give tax cuts to the "wealthy."
Don't forget NPR. They were babbling about the unforeseen effects of the war in Iraq and the tax cuts. I almost broke my steering wheel when I heard that.
Here is my take on the lessons to be learned from Katrina...HERE