Skip to comments.Bush Out of Touch with Louisiana'a Katrina Reality
Posted on 01/29/2006 6:38:07 AM PST by Uncle Sham
Out of touch with our reality
By OPINION PAGE STAFF
Published: Jan 29, 2006
Mr. President, were grateful for every dollar of aid we get, from private or public sources. But your statement of Thursday is simply out of touch with reality in Louisiana today.
I want to remind the people in that part of the world, $85 billion is a lot.
In the abstract, sure. Its a lot of money. But as a senatorial inspection group found the other day, there has not been anywhere near $85 billion worth of progress.
For one thing, that money isnt free money. Almost all of it is spent in accordance with a federal law called the Stafford Act. It has proved woefully inadequate in dealing with a disaster of the magnitude of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A great deal of the money appropriated hasnt been spent and because of Stafford Act restrictions it might never be spent on the things that Louisiana needs to recover from this catastrophe.
Mr. President, were still reeling in Louisiana from your announced opposition to the key Louisiana proposal to rebuild devastated areas in southwest Louisiana and metropolitan New Orleans. This is a bipartisan and innovative plan, the Louisiana Recovery Corp. fashioned by U.S. Rep. Richard Baker, R-Baton Rouge.
Weve not heard one good reason from your people why youd be against it, although there seems some concern about its cost. Thats capped at $30 billion, with some payback to the Treasury later on if appreciated land is redeveloped.
You ought to reconsider that position, but if you dont back the Baker bill, wheres the money to rebuild the devastated areas? Is it in that $85 billion total youre so impressed with? The law will prevent almost all of that from going to the kind of rebuilding that is needed in an unprecedented catastrophe. The law is just not designed for Katrina and Rita.
A lot of money is going to pay a huge federal bureaucratic army that is trying to pound the square pegs of Louisiana needs through the round holes of the Stafford Act.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has done some important work in relief, but even that money comes with strings: The state of Louisiana is estimated to be on the hook for matching funds to the tune of well more than $1 billion, maybe as much as $4 billion. We dont have that kind of money lying around.
Were not sure the unemployed of the devastated parishes have the same appreciation you do for how much money has been sent to Louisiana so far. They and many others might see the end of their unemployment checks soon.
Forget any other priority. Using every discretionary dollar available to the state for homeowner aid, its a $6 billion Band-Aid that isnt going to heal a $40 billion-plus wound.
Thats the opinion of Republicans and Democrats down here, conservatives and liberals.
Reconstructing whole communities is beyond the scope of that $85 billion, even if federal law allowed the money to be spent on what needs to be done.
Even if we managed to clear all the rubble with the Stafford Act funds, what happens to that devastated property? Who clears the title and assembles land for redevelopment? Who makes sure that the development plans conform to the communitys desires? Who will make sure that natives of the devastated regions will have a financially reasonable chance of returning to their neighborhoods? Most of us cant wait months and years with house notes or commercial bank loans on homes and businesses we cant use. The Baker bill envisions a quasi-public corporation that would have obligations not only to the taxpayer but to the ordinary citizens of Louisiana. Theyre the ones who will be left helpless and bankrupt if the Baker bill isnt passed.
Otherwise, properties will go to the banks, which dont want them and cant sell them. Some speculators might buy land up and hold it for some years. We can assure you that one thing they wont do is develop affordable housing on that land. Thats one of the missions of the Baker bill, but its nobodys mission absent that mechanism.
If theres desirable land under the wreckage, well see expensive homes and condos for outsiders, a vacation home Mecca that people once from New Orleans can visit and show, at a security-guard-safe distance, to their grandchildren born in Dallas and Atlanta. Youll just see vacant lots in St. Bernard Parish.
Well have a heck of a lot of devastation and long-term blight to show for the $85 billion, Mr. President, if you dont change your mind and back Louisianas comprehensive redevelopment plan envisioned in the Baker bill.
Were angry at your position on this issue, Mr. President, and the patronizing tone of your ill-informed view of the Stafford Act money as some kind of Louisiana trust fund. But mostly, were sorry that the one official who represents the whole nation appears to have turned his back on a meaningful federal role in rebuilding our state. Louisiana isnt going to make it with todays deal, Mr. President. Youve got to do better than this.
He's not out of touch with reality, he's out of money.
New Orleans can't and maybe shouldn't ever be what it once was without very serious engineering work on the levee system. Use the most heavily flooded areas for warehouses, not for high density housing.
I've noticed this week that the Washington Post has begun an advocacy campaign to use Katrina for another round of Bush bashing. News reports over the last week are full of criticism of the Bush administration for promises that haven't been kept and nothing getting done in the aftermath of Katrina. The Post capped it off this morning with an anti-Bush lead editorial on the same subject. I guess this is how they try build conventional wisdom and promote their point of view.
Private capital will flow where it makes sense. If it's not flowing into NO, then it doesn't make sense for the government to follow.
That is up to the property owners.
Who clears the title and assembles land for redevelopment?
Property owners can sell to developers if the price is right.
Who makes sure that the development plans conform to the communitys desires?
Desires? Dreams? The "Community" of activist who care little for private property rights? The market place will develop as warranted.
Who will make sure that natives of the devastated regions will have a financially reasonable chance of returning to their neighborhoods?
The government of Louisiana should make sure the property rights of the natives are not violated.
Why do you keep turning to me to rebuild your city? Maybe the $85 billion would be sufficient if your politicians weren't so corrupt and ineffective. Maybe the damage wouldn't have been so severe to begin with if your own local people had had the first notion of how to take care of you, or -- God forbid! -- you had the slightest idea of how to take care of yourself. And the gumption to do it.
No, the Stafford Law isn't made for disasters on the scale of Katrina, but then again, it was never INTENDED to be! FEMA is not a relief organization, and it certainly isn't a welfare group.
I can have Karl send you the addresses of Ray Nagin and Kathleen Blanco if you'd like. They're the folks you need to be talking to.
Get to work and stop whining.
George W. Bush
Back in the 1970's the Corps of Engineers proposed a system of flood gates similar to the dikes that protect the Netherlands from floods. It was killed by a federal judge after environmental groups filed suit. Do you want to guess the political affiliation of the president who appointed that judge?
Stop sending 25 billion to Africa....
Who rebuilt Chicago and San Francisco after the disasters that destroyed them? Did the federal gov't write a huge check back then?
Stopped reading after "Bush out of touch".
Oh, now it is "Mr. President." Before it was racist.
My heart is just breaking.
There isn't unlimited amount of money to be had either.
Jeez, grow up! It doesn't hurt to take some responsibily for yourself!
This idiot needs to be realistic. Looked what has happened in NYC post 9/11. Coming up on 5 years and only a small portion of the complex has een rebuilt. And that's with tons of money and private developers involved.
New Orleans will NEVER be the same.
"There are other issues that has to be dealt with! Maybe you heard of Palestanians Election, Iraq, Russia, Ukraine, Illegal Immigrants, you name it!"
Well I was with you on that statement until "Illegal Immigrants". Can't say Bush has done much on that one.
There is a huge difference between 911 and Katrina. Over two hundred thousand of your fellow Americans are without a home, and many are without the places they were employed as well. They should be provided a means to properly move forward with their lives instead of being kept on hold.
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