Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hurricane in a vacuum?

Katrina and Rita didn't occur in a political vacuum, as this editorial from the Washingon Post makes clear. The Post has some harsh words for the Louisiana Congressional delegation's request for funds. Here's an excerpt:

Like looters who seize six televisions when their homes have room for only two, the Louisiana legislators are out to grab more federal cash than they could possibly spend usefully. For example, their bill demands $7 billion for rebuilding evacuation and energy supply routes, but it also demands a separate $5 billion for road building and makes no mention of the $3.1 billion already awarded to the state in the recent transportation legislation. The bill demands $50 billion in community development block grants, partly to get small businesses going, but it also demands $150 million for a small-business loan fund plus generous business tax breaks. The bill even asks for $35 million for seafood marketing and $25 million for a sugar-cane research laboratory. This is the equivalent of New York responding to the attacks on the World Trade Center by insisting upon a federally financed stadium in Brooklyn.
Money requested for the sugar cane industry looks particularly suspect after all the attempts at deal-making before the vote on CAFTA a couple months ago. More broadly, the state's reputation for corruption and misappropriation of funds hangs heavy over all requests -- no matter how legitimate -- for post-hurricane relief. The lesson? Reputations have consequences. Hurricanes can't blow away Louisiana's checkered past.