Raznor's Rants

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans
Posted by Raznor

I've been meaning to post on New Orleans since the hurricane, but could never think of anything to say. I've never been to New Orleans, so imagining the damage Katrina has caused is quite difficult. What's striking me now, though, is how this once again demonstrates the unwavering cowardice and childishness of our Commander in Chief.

Over at This Modern World Bob Harris finds this relevant article. The whole thing is worth a read, but this is what struck me the most (emphasis mine):

When flooding from a massive rainstorm in May 1995 killed six people, Congress authorized the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project, or SELA.

Over the next 10 years, the Army Corps of Engineers, tasked with carrying out SELA, spent $430 million on shoring up levees and building pumping stations, with $50 million in local aid. But at least $250 million in crucial projects remained, even as hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin increased dramatically and the levees surrounding New Orleans continued to subside.

Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA dropped to a trickle. The [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain.

Now, think about that. At a time of a very costly war, Bush continued to emphasize tax cuts. As a result he cut the funding for this project that's under the radar. Now, whether or not the war was a good idea is not the issue here. The issue is at the time of a costly war, Bush made the cowardly and irresponsible decision to cut federal revenues so he could help out his rich friends. And then, of course it wasn't any of the rich who suffered from this hurricane, but the poor who of course didn't benefit from these massive cuts.

Now, I'm not arguing that a well-funded SELA would have, by the time the hurricane hit, done a significant amount to reduce the damages the hurricanes caused. There's no way to know that. Nor was there any way for Bush to know that such a devastating hurricane was on it's way to Louisiana. But had Bush been a responsible president, he would have taken a look at the costs of the tax cuts he was proposing, and realized the importance of such programs as SELA and others, and made adjustments to his policies accordingly. I don't think, however, that the president is capable of such reflection.


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