United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today commented on President Bush’s visit to New Orleans and his speech at Jackson Barracks. Sen. Landrieu wasn’t happy, and she summed it up in a press statement, which is presented here in its entirety. Landrieu is a steely southern woman whether you like her politics or not. In a genteel way, she takes Bush out to the woodshed.
“I welcome President Bush to Louisiana today in advance of the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the catastrophic failure of the federal levee system. His attention to the continuing emergency and remaining recovery needs along the Gulf Coast is sorely needed, but it is the quality of the visits, not the quantity, that matters most.
“The President rightfully recognized the significant commitment already shown by the federal government. But let no one suffer the illusion that $126 billion has gone straight to where it is needed and where it belongs. The Government Accountability Office has reported (GAO) that only a fraction of this funding has been invested in our long-term recovery. Far too much has been lost to the inefficiency and red tape of FEMA and the federal bureaucracy, as well as the pockets of out-of-state FEMA contractors. There also remain bureaucratic challenges at the city and state level that our local leaders must continue working to resolve.
“I am grateful that the President answered our call to extend the payment terms for Louisiana’s cost-share on 100-year flood protection to 30 years, instead of three. This gives the state flexibility to focus on critical coastal restoration projects, but now the President must work with Congress to deliver the additional $1.5 billion the Corps will still need to finish this crucial flood protection work by 2011.
“The President should also be reminded that in the Emergency Supplemental bill signed into law in June, his Administration pressured the House of Representatives to strip $15 million from the restoration of Jackson Barracks – the backdrop for today’s visit. Also cut due to the White House veto threat was $157.5 million for six New Orleans area hospitals, $50 million for crime prevention, $75 million to help accelerate closure of MRGO and $5 million for a Cameron Parish waste water system.
“In the remaining days of President Bush’s term, I urge him to listen to the voices of Louisiana from this visit and be ready to work with our delegation to meet these and other outstanding recovery needs. In particular, we need to focus on critical infrastructure such as our streets and roadways,” Landrieu said.
It is amazing that Bush continues to visit the Crescent City he abandoned three years ago after the floods of Katrina. What is even more amazing is that he can come up with lines like the ones he spoke today.
“Not to be an 'I-told-you-so, ' but I was in Jackson Square, and I predicted that New Orleans would come back as a stronger and better city.” "That's the prediction I made."
Yeah, he made that prediction in Jackson Square three years ago and packed up the generators used for his photo op and went home while the city was still blacked out.
Adding insult to an already severely injured city, Bush chirped that “hope is marching on.”
Well, hope hasn’t marched over to the still wrecked neighborhoods, located blocks away from where he spoke at Jackson Barracks. Dangling wires, rotting buildings, piles of debris and abandoned lots and broken dreams are Bush’s real legacy.
Landrieu got it right. Bully for her.