Friday, May 05, 2006

D.O.A.

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert:

“As it’s currently drafted, the Senate’s $109 billion emergency spending bill is dead on arrival in the House. President Bush requested $92 billion for the War on Terror and some hurricane spending. The House used fiscal restraint, but now the Senate wants to come to the table with a tab that’s $17 billion over budget. The House has no intention of joining in a spending spree at the expense of American taxpayers.”
The “spending spree” that Hastert speaks of, is it global war spending? After all, that’s where $66 billion of the emergency spending is going and where a lot has already gone:
The new funds would bring total spending on war-related costs since the September 2001 attacks to roughly $430 billion, according to calculations by the Congressional Research Service.
Alas, no. He is talking about spending *other than what the President wants.* And Bush won’t have any of that:
Q And if that number that it comes back in is over $94.5 billion, no question it will be vetoed?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President has made it very clear he would veto legislation that goes above and beyond what he called for. And also members of both the Senate and House have expressed that they will sustain that veto and that they have enough votes to sustain such a veto.
For Gulf Coast residents, the hurricane money is in both the President’s leaner bill and the Senate’s fatter bill. So, more aid is on the way. Eventually.

But, eventually is not good news for Louisiana residents. Mississippi and Alabama have come up with a plan, which was approved, and have gotten their community development block grants to rebuild their communities. We in Louisiana have not because our plan (for better or for worse) relies on $4.2 billion that is buried in this spending bill that Congress is battering back and forth and the President is threatening to veto. As Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu and Schoolhouse Rock have told us, the legislative process can take a while.

If the money doesn’t come through, Governor Blanco says she won’t go through with the plan we do have, even though there is a backup:
If the state doesn't get the additional cash, the plan would lower the amount of maximum assistance to half what homeowners would be able to receive under a fully funded program. But Blanco has said that without the $4.2 billion, she will scrap the plans and start over.
Starting over could take a while, too. It has taken us eight months to come up with this plan and get it moving through our state legislature. Another long delay to come up with a new plan using less money could chase away residents who want to rebuild but need help.

We are running out of money. And we are running out of time. The political process is not helping us with either.

In the case of New Orleans, the city was not D.O.A. after Katrina. But, our recovery is M.I.A., a prisoner of a war that is sucking the funds from the U.S. Treasury, leaving a great American city to fight for the leftovers. And leftovers don’t build homes or levees.

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