Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Senator Lootsalot

Following up on my post yesterday, check out the Washington Post lead editorial linked in the title that BLASTS Sens. Vitter and Landrieu for their Katrina-derived extortion. First, reaction to the demand itself from the Post:

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. 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.

In its conclusion, the Post notes the fiscal dangers I griped about in my post too:

The Louisiana bill is so preposterous that its authors can't possibly expect it to pass; it's just the first round in a process of negotiation. But the risk is that the administration and congressional leaders will accept the $250 billion as a starting point, then declare a victory for fiscal sanity when they bring the number down to, say, $150 billion.

Sounds 'bout right.

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