The Washington Post has a devastating article about the Louisiana congressional delegation’s demand for a $250 billion federal handout:
The nation is at war. It is mired in debt. It has been hit by floods and hurricanes. In the face of this adversity, congressional leaders have rightly dropped proposals for yet more tax cuts, and some have suggested removing the pork from the recently passed transportation bill. But this spirit of forbearance has not touched the Louisiana congressional delegation. The state’s representatives have come up with a request for $250 billion in federal reconstruction funds for Louisiana alone — more than $50,000 per person in the state. This money would come on top of payouts from businesses, national charities and insurers. And it would come on top of the $62.3 billion that Congress has already appropriated for emergency relief.
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.
Louisiana is one of the worst-governed states in the Union, possessing a government that is thoroughly corrupt and inefficient – and now they want a quarter of a trillion dollars in political patronage. Such a request is absolutely outrageous and a demonstration of how entrenched the pork-barrel entitlement culture is in that state. The Post continues:
The Louisiana delegation has apparently devoted little thought to the root causes of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans was flooded not because the Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient money to build flood protections, but because its money was allocated by a system of political patronage. The smart response would be to insist that, in the future, no Corps money be wasted on unworthy projects, but the Louisiana bill instead creates a mechanism by which cost-benefit analysis can be avoided.
The emphasis is, of course, mine. Interesting that the Post would explode one of the larger lefty talking points after Katrina. Then again, that statement is entirely true – the money to build the levees was there, it was just wasted through corruption and unnecessary and often counterproductive pork-barrel projects. The levee system would hold back a Category 3 storm – when Katrina hit New Orleans it was a Cat 4.
The Post is exactly right: Congress should rightly ignore the Louisiana delegation’s demands and do what works. Which means putting the levee system under federal control, putting tight controls on money sent to the state, and locking the corrupt local politicos out of the process. Furthermore, the level of corruption in Louisiana demands a RICO probe to determine how much federal money was absconded with and where it went.
The Louisiana delegation, especially Senator Vitter and Rep. Jindal – both of whom should know better – should be ashamed of itself. This kind of pork-barrelling not only trivializes a major catastrophe, but shows the nation that Louisiana is more serious about spending billion in taxpayer money than seriously preventing another disaster.