GOING OVERBOARD: LOUISIANA NEEDS HELP, BUT NOT THIS MUCH HELP
October 5, 2005
The $250 billion Hurricane Katrina relief bill put forward in the Senate by Louisiana's two senators, Democrat Mary Landrieu and Republican David Vitter, and endorsed by the state's entire congressional delegation is outrageous, greedy and insulting, says the Dallas Morning News.
Indeed, the "Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act" is outrageously pork-packed. Among its provisions:
- Dredging and deepening the Port of Iberia for oil tankers, a scheme that has nothing to do with flood protection and which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' own study determined would generate only 30 cents of revenue for every taxpayer dollar spent.
- A request for a staggering 16 times more federal money for the Corps than the Corps itself says it needs to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 storm.
- An exemption from restrictions requiring Corps projects to meet federal environmental standards, plus a pass on rules requiring localities to pay a portion of Corps expenses - meaning the U.S. taxpayer would pick up the entire check.
- Resurrecting a boondoggle plan to build a new $750 million lock on the New Orleans Industrial Canal to provide for rising barge traffic - even though statistics show barge traffic has been spiraling downhill on that route since the mid-1990s.
Under the bill's provisions, the Corps of Engineers' spending would be overseen by an all-powerful "Pelican Commission," a nine-member board, two-thirds of whose seats would be set aside for Louisiana residents. Moreover, as the Washington Post reported, nearly every member of the working group that contributed to the writing of the bill was a lobbyist.
Hopefully, a sober Congress will show the good folks of Louisiana some tough love, says the News.
Source: Editorial, "Going Overboard: Louisiana needs help, but not this much help," Dallas Morning News, October 4, 2005.
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