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  • Tuesday, December 13, 2005

    Katrina? Oh yeah, I think I remember that...

    From American Progress:

    On September 15, President Bush stood in downtown New Orleans -- bathed in floodlights powered by generators -- and made a pledge. Bush said, "Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. ... There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans." It hasn't worked out that way. A presidential adviser told TIME Magazine reporter Mike Allen that Katrina "has fallen so far off the radar screen, you can't even find it." Bush hasn't visited the Gulf Coast since Oct. 11. Most significantly, critical funding to build stronger and higher levees has not been appropriated. The New York Time notes, "Homeowners, businesses and insurance companies all need a commitment [that stronger levees will be constructed] before they will stake their futures on the city." As it stands, we "are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die."

    It will cost an estimated $32 billion "to strengthen Louisiana's flood defenses so they could withstand a Category 5 hurricane." The price tag has "drawn a tepid response from the Bush administration." The administration's top reconstruction official, Donald Powell, said the decision about whether to provide funding for the levees will "[h]opefully...be made sooner rather than later." While the cost of the levees is significant, the New York Times notes "it is barely one-third the cost of the $95 billion in tax cuts passed just last week by the House of Representatives," that would largely benefit the wealthy and are supported whole heartedly by the White House. Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) says "she'll use parliamentary procedures to keep Congress in session over Christmas unless it approves spending for levees, Louisiana school districts and hospitals."

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