Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Why Bush’s Number Fudging Bites Us in the Butt

We will eventually need $6 billion more for comprehensive levee protection for all of southeastern Louisiana. And that money needs to come from the federal government because it is their job to build the levees. Our Congressional delegation has to ask for that money because, apparently, our President doesn’t want to give it up.

But at least one of them sees a rough road ahead:
Vitter acknowledged that coming back to Congress to ask for another $6 billion will be difficult after the administration has already requested more than $100 billion in recovery funds.

“There is not a great mood,” Vitter said. “That’s why the surprise nature of this couldn’t happen at a worse time.”
Vitter thinks “the administration has already requested more than $100 billion in recovery funds,” and he feels it would be difficult to ask for more.

Well, let me make it a little easier for him.

He should tell the President that, in fact, the administration has *not* requested more than $100 billion in recovery funds. Congress has committed $67 billion dollars to the Gulf Coast. And the $25.3 billion dollars in the current version of the latest bill in the Senate would bring the total requested up to $92 billion (which is a few billion higher than what the President wanted). Last time I checked, 92 was less than 100.

Vitter needs to tell the administration to stop including the money the National Flood Insurance Program can borrow to pay flood claims when saying how much they have requested. Congress authorized the NFIP in March to borrow up to $20.8 billion. But that’s not for a grant. That’s not for a loan. That’s for what is due to policy holders.

If the President doubts the numbers, Vitter can show him this:
* 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.

* March 16, 2006 – Congress raises NFIP borrowing limit to pay flood insurance claims to $20.8 billion.

* April 4, 2006 – Senate Committee passes bill with $25.3 billion in hurricane spending. That's not a final number, yet.

Total committed to date, not including insurance borrowing: $67 billion.
Now, go in peace, and ask for the $6 billion.

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