Friday, September 08, 2006

My Advice for Mary Landrieu and the Democratic Party

Actually the point I didn't get to when I posted last night.

Let's face it, the Democratic Party blew it when it allowed the president to pad the Katrina relief figures with the $18B cost of federal flood insurance payments last January. Let me rephrase that, they should have demanded to know how Bush figured that the congress appropriated $85B in federal aid money for the residents of the states affected by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Wilma.

I understand that the bigger issues about Katrina spending like the waste ad cronyism that led to blue roofs that cost as much as real roofs. But I'm still flabbergasted that I had to wait two for da po'blog to explain where the extra $18B came from. If the Democrats were a serious party or the reporters covering reconstruction were more than stenographers, the question would have been asked the minute Bush finished the Bay St. Louis speech in which he first used the inflated number.

That's all over with, and once again the Democrats have allowed the Republicans to define the terms of debate. Or so it seemed, until a recent GAO report questioned how the government has been spending the $88B. The Democrats have the chance to point out the dishonesty of the president's spin, or at least redefine the terms of the debate, if they take it.

They can:

1) Continue to accept the $110B figure.

2) They can show some backbone by pointing out that it's not exactly fair to count insurance payments that the government was legally obligated to make as aid, before questioning the waste and corruption involved in the rest of the spending. Of course, that's assuming that the Democrats aren't happily taking their share of the wasted money or taking bribes from the profiteers that are.

3) They can show some brains by questioning how much of the $88B is actually going to help the people who were hurt by last year's hurricanes. When questioned on it, the smart thing would be just to say that's the GAO figures. They'd probably need to say a little more than that, but they should keep it as brief as possible To say too much would be to unnecessarily assume the burden of proof.

I'll give Mary Landrieu credit for having some backbone; I'd like to see her show some brains. I'd like to see the national Democratic leadership show either.

Now if somebody can use the fact that the GAO report mentioned three hurricanes to combat the impression that all of the money's going to New Orleans. Most of it is going to Louisiana and Mississippi, but some people are giving the impression that it's all going to N.O. If we're to believe Jarvis DeBerry, Fox news is doing a lot more than implying.

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