Sunday, April 09, 2006

Jeb Hensarling Thinks That $100B Is A Lot

In a letter to the editor in Friday's Picayune, Rep. Hensarling of Texas writes:

I have already voted on several occasions to send relief to the Gulf Coast now totaling almost $100 billion

He further adds:

Finally, reforms must be undertaken to ensure that federal taxpayers do not have to write another $100 billion check in the future

Though the overall tone of the letter is conciliatory, he twice mentions an inflated aid figure without actually answering the points raised in either the editorial that he mentions or in another editorial from the same newspaper.

I'll give the congressman the benefit of the doubt and assume that he truly believes that the $100B aid figure is accurate (although he should know that some of it has gone to Texas) and that his reluctance to vote for more aid is based on concerns about waste and fraud rather than the laziness of New Orleanians. However, one has to wonder that he didn't voice these concerns when it came to voting to fully fund Mississippi's recovery. Assuming, that partisan politics had nothing to do with it, one can only assume that his reluctance to fund Louisiana's recovery as fully as Mississippi's is based on an emotional reaction to the enormous price tag of funding Louisiana's recovery.

If Hensarling had done his homework, he had know that the cost of rebuilding Louisiana is so great, because the destruction in Louisiana is so great:

The presentation, among other things, shows that Orleans Parish alone had more homes severely damaged (105,155) than Alabama, Florida, Mississippi and Texas combined (100,372).

Of course, he'd also know that the federal government bears some responsibility for the destruction in New Orleans, but that's a slightly different matter.

Whatever the reasons for the congressman's views, they seem to be based more on emotion than logical consistency. One can only hope that the emotion stems from an uniformed reaction to the size of the bill. There are certainly worse things that one could attribute it to.

Update:At the time that Hensarling made his comments, sent out the following email:

Texas Senator Jeb Hensarling visited New Orleans recently. While there
he blasted New Orleanians for wanting a big federal hand out and taking
no responsibility. Senator Hensarling needs to be reminded that
Congress and the Corps are responsible for our suffering.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO is contact any family or friends
who live in Texas and ask them to write a letter to Sen Hensarling and
send it to this address:

Dallas District Office:
6510 Abrams Road, Suite 243
Dallas, TX 75231

The second most important thing you can do is write a letter yourself.
Your own words are best but you (and your Texas family and friends) are
welcome to use the letter below.

Dear Senator Hensarling,

In your recent visit to New Orleans you blasted the citizens of New
Orleans for their irresponsible post-Katrina behavior. This criticism was
especially harsh since the death and destruction that metro New
Orleanians suffered was due to disastrous design and planning mistakes by the
US Army Corps of Engineers -- a federal agency.

Certainly you know that the US Army Corps of Engineers has sole
authority over the design and construction of New Orleans' flood protection.
And even though Katrina missed New Orleans, the federally built levees
failed catastrophically all over the City.

Dan Hitchings, the Director of Task Force Hope with the US Army Corps
of Engineers says that "the Corps is accountable to the people and to
Congress for the performance of the flood protection." Clearly it didn't

It is time for the federal government to acknowledge the Corps' causal
role in the flooding. And it is high time that Congress provide the
resources necessary to make the citizens of metro New Orleans whole.

This begins with 1) setting aside the appropriate funding to compensate
homeowners, 2) providing the necessary funding to restore Louisiana's
coastal wetlands, and 3) improving metro New Orleans' flood protection
to withstand a Cat 5 storm surge.


Good idea, although it should be addressed to Rep. Hensarling. Since the Corps has since admitted to faulty, I would mention that. He can also be contacted via email:address

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