Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Senators Complain: We're Not Taking Enough Taxpayer Money For Hurricane Aid

The Enemy Press AP reports that some Senators are complaining that money they wanted to take from taxpayers for state reconstruction is being blocked by President Bush. "Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the committee, said four or five senators have been blocking action on the bill after the Bush administration raised objections to provisions that would extend Medicaid coverage to thousands upon thousands of adults who otherwise would be uninsured, including those whose applications have been rejected in Louisiana. 'We can work with everybody, including the administration, or against them, and I'm prepared to go either way,' said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. 'But I'm going to look after our people first.'" And looking after your people means the Federal Treasury must be raided? Sorry, but taxpayer monies aren't needed for that because the AP story says the administration has already set up a fund for those uncovered by insurance or Medicaid. The Senators moaned that the president hasn't indicated how much money was in the fund or if the president has the authority to create it. Well, the correct answer is for the lazy Senators to quit having hearings about steroids and get back to the business of governing the country. In fact someone needs to remind them that the House initiates all spending bills. Talk to them about it.
But of course it's all grandstanding for the limelight hogs. Governor Blanco of Louisiana came to the committee to ask for money too. She was egged on by Senator Conrad to avoid blame and try to shift it back to former FEMA Director Brown. She didn't do it however, because she said, "'We are looking forward, not backward.'" Not really, it's just that she knows the criticism of her inactivity is valid, and she and mayor Nagin are the first line responsible for the city and state, and they failed. She also appeared to ask for job creation.
Meanwhile, back at the House, a panel was asking government agencies to carefully audit who was getting rebuilding contracts. It appears that the House is so concerned that no one who even knows President Bush is able to get any of the work. The House panel was "hearing pledges from government auditors that they will closely examine millions of dollars in contracts the Bush administration awarded to politically connected companies for Hurricane Katrina relief." Really, do you have any proof that "politically connected companies" were the ones to benefit? Doubtful, or else the Enemy Press would have indicated names. "The inspectors general from half a dozen agencies, as well as officials from the Government Accountability Office, on Wednesday were addressing a House subcommittee on the Katrina cleanup and announcing several new audits to combat waste and fraud." Sounds like a good idea, first stop spending money until the scope of the needs are tallied. Instead of awarding government contracts, let the private sector take over the rebuilding of devastated areas. Government corruption can be blocked that way. "'When so much money is available, it draws people of less than perfect character,' H. Walker Feaster, inspector general of the Federal Communications Commission, said." Like Senators and Congressmen? Oh, you mean businessmen. No , can't let any of them make money. Continuing in that vein, the story concludes, "In the weeks after the Aug. 29 storm, more than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts awarded by FEMA for Katrina work were handed out with little or no competition or had open-ended or vague terms that previous audits have cited as being highly prone to abuse." And how many of these contracts were awarded to companies that are the only ones big enough or have the expertise to do the job? We don't know, but if Congress thinks they need to personally pick every company awarded a contract, they will mess it up for sure. Every little interest group will demand a piece of the action, whether they can do the job or not. If the Enemy Press AP thinks the contracts are prone to abuse now, wait till Congress gets involved.
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