Thursday, March 09, 2006

$88 Billion is the New $85 Billion

Here we go again, courtesy of CNN:
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.


Mr. Clio said...

The numbers is game emphatically not OLD. THEY think if they keep repeating fraud, people will eventually see it as truth. Thus, you must keep repeating the truth firmly and concisely. Great work!

bayoustjohndavid said...

I wondered about the $68B figure that even people who get it partially right use. I probably shouldn't have corrected Spencer Hsu on it in his answer to my email, haven't heard back on that.

I agree with mr. clio and once it reaches $100B the right wing noise will get deafening and somehow it will all be going to N.O., even with Texas and Miss. demanding a bigger cut. The insurance is just the biggest and easiest (should have been easiest) example. More I think about it, the less pointing the Republican contradiction on tax cuts--tax cuts for the Gulf Coast come out of the budget, tax cuts for the wealthy don't-- seems like a cheap gotcha. But that's more a national policy debate, maybe we should all email Paul Krugman.

Mark said...

I think we need to dig in and see how much is going to things like military infrastructure repair for places like Keesler. I know a good chunk of the 67 point is essentially the cost of self-insurance by the central government, and should be deducted as well from any total of "assistance".

da po' boy said...

Also, how much of the original 67 was used right after the storm as emergency response? That is "assitance," but it is not exactly helping "rebuild."

bayoustjohndavid said...

I mentioned Mark's point in a follow up letter to the WAPO, I would be curious how base repair funds, both in the U.S. and abroad, are normally listed. I believe the original appropriation contained $4B for base repair BTW. Aggravating thing is even liberal groups like Oxfam america quote the inflated figure.