White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday the federal government has committed some $88 billion to help rebuild the Gulf Coast.The new White House spin number includes an additional $2.7 billion in borrowing power given to the National Flood Insurance Program in February. The NFIP can borrow up to $21.2 billion dollars to pay off flood insurance claims, which is must do.
So, at least $21 billion of the $88 billion number that McClellan gives is money that the federal government is required to pay – not extra money to help rebuild.
Subtract 21 from 88 and you get 67, the actual number that should be used to describe how much money the federal government has committed. The Times-Picayune is using $68 billion, which is a rounded up version.
I know the numbers game is old, but I still think it is important to be armed against spin.
Here’s my breakdown again:
* September 2, 2005 – Bush signs $10.5 billion disaster relief bill
* September 8, 2005 – Bush signs $51.8 billion disaster relief bill
* December 31, 2005 – Bush signs defense bill which includes $29 billion in hurricane aid, of which $5 billion is new funds and $24 billion diverted from the already authorized $62 billion.
* February 15, 2006 – Congress raises NFIP borrowing limit to pay flood insurance claims to $21.2 billion.
* February 16, 2006 – Bush asks for $19.8 billion supplemental for hurricane relief.
* March 9, 2006 – $19 billion dollar version of the bill is in the House of Representatives.
If the $19 billion dollar version passes the House and Senate, be on the look out for this line:
The federal government has committed some $107 billion to help rebuild the Gulf Coast.