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Apparently, it's fine for the GOP to show a basic lack of compassion and decency towards the survivors of Katrina... you just can't call them on it.

One of the more onerous strings on federal Katrina Relief money is that they are subject to the Stafford Act: local communities must find 10% in matching funds before they see a dime of the federal grants. The act was designed to prevent fraud in small scale-disasters, but it's frequently waived in large ones: it was waived for NY after 9/11 and waived for Florida after Hurricane Andrew.

It hasn't been waived for Louisiana or Mississippi, so one of the "workarounds" the locals have come up with is using their community block grants for those much-needed matching funds.

The Republicans would like to stop that, and last week, Rep. Tom Price of Georgia tried to amend the low-income housing aid package to make it so. Rep. Gene Taylor rose to speak against the move... and got banned for his trouble.

Here's what Taylor said that got him a "time out":

First, let me tell the gentleman from Georgia that I appreciate him trying to save some money. I think his efforts though are a year late.

If you want to look for Katrina fraud, look for the Katrina fraud that was perpetrated by the Bush administration.

In south Mississippi at one point we had 40,000 people living in FEMA trailers, we're grateful for every one of them. But those trailers were delivered by a friend of the president by the name of Riley Bechtel, a major contributor to Bush administration. He got $16,000 to haul a trailer the last 70 miles from Fergus, MS down to the Gulf Coast , hook it up to a garden hose, hook it up to a sewer tap, and plug it in, $16,000. So the gentleman never came to the floor once last year to talk about that fraud.

But now little towns like Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, that have no tax base because their stores were destroyed in the storm, a county like Hancock County, where 90% of the residents lost everything, or at least substantial damage to their home, he wants to punish Bay St. Louis, he wants to punish Waveland, he wants to punish Pass Christian for mistakes of the Bush administration.

Mr. Price, I wish you'd have the decency, if you're going to do that to the people of south Mississippi, that maybe you ought to come visit south Mississippi, and see what has happened, before you hold them to a standard you would never hold your own people to, and that you fail to hold the Bush administration to..

Under House rules, questioning Price's "decency" was enough to get Taylor banned. Taylor later apologized for using the "d"-word, but through a spokeman, he made it clear he wasn't apologizing for anything else:

"This is somebody with no idea what he's talking about, who hasn't visited Waveland, Mississippi," she said, referring to a town in Rep. Taylor's district. "He doesn't know that no one is living there, the City of Waveland has no tax base, they can't rely on regular police patrols, they're using volunteer firefighters, and there is no way for parts of south Mississippi to rebuild unless they're able to use community development block grants."

Taylor was reinstated by the House later in the day... and the aid package passed without the Price amendment. And the GOP are still jerks.

Originally posted to commonscribe on Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 04:46 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Working for Tips (12+ / 0-)

    to stop the madness.

    To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

    by commonscribe on Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 04:44:07 AM PDT

  •  This doesn't make sense (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, commonscribe, Hens Teeth

    They're not giving money to rebuild, yet the federal government is still paying to keep the evacuees in hotels and apartments here in Houston, and will probably do so until these people die of old age.  Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run for FEMA to pay for them to rebuild?

    •  Yes (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      theboz, commonscribe, Hens Teeth

      the problem is that FEMA will not release or pay out the remaining recovery monies unless the local government comes up with a match.

      As written, the relief bill appropriated 110 Billion, 53 has been spent. The president will not eliminate the requirement that states and cities match the fed money 10 cents for every dollar spent by DC.

      Bush urged to cut state a break
      March 2, 2007

      WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats blasted President Bush on Thursday for refusing during a Gulf Coast trip to let Louisiana off the hook for paying 10 percent of the mounting hurricane recovery tab.

      State officials for months have been asking the administration to grant a waiver to a federal law that requires states to match federal money spent on disaster relief. Such a waiver was granted to New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, to Hawaii after Hurricane Iniki, and to Louisiana and Florida after Hurricane Andrew.

      But Bush has balked, saying Congress appropriated enough money to the state after the 2005 hurricane season to cover its share of the bill. He was publicly mum on the waiver issue during his Thursday visit to Louisiana and Mississippi, and a White House spokeswoman said, "We're weighing the merits, but no decision has been made."

      So I can't speak to your beef with Houston and the hotels, I agree it's stupid. But overall the people that are coming back or the people that are rebuilding are doing ON THEIR OWN. It's a complete outrage especially with the precedent set by 9/11, Andrew and other natural disasters.

      That's what Taylor is so pissed about, his district like the whole region is in a Catch-22. They have no tax base to provide the match. The insurance companies walked away and paid little or nothing, they need the government to step in. But it's not happening.

      •  That's really the key (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mbair, commonscribe

        They have no tax base to provide the match. The insurance companies walked away and paid little or nothing, they need the government to step in. But it's not happening.

        In a better world, the government would go ahead and pay, and if they wanted reimbursed for any of it, they would have sued the insurance companies who screwed the people over in those areas.  Instead, the government refuses to pay to rebuild, but is perfectly ok with continuing to pay indefinitely for them to be in hotels and apartments.

        •  I know (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          especially with the match being waived in other recent disasters by this president. I think the match is a standard approach and I have no problem with it. But usually what happens is that the insurance pays enough for people to get their lives back somewhat and their businesses back open, paying taxes as customers and service providers, and then the government steps in with funds to sustain and finish the job. That didn't happen with Katrina or Rita.

          The insurance company story is so painful. Those companies walked away from every responsibility they ever had. I just read this morning; it comes from St. Bernard Parish but it's the same deal:

          More Spring Break: One Family's Saga

          The Bordreaux’s battle with their insurance company has been no better: long and drawn out. They had homeowner’s insurance, but not flood insurance. When they originally bought insurance, the salesman told them they didn’t need flood insurance – because of the levee system, the government did not consider St. Bernard Parish a flood zone. It’s easy to criticize people for not purchasing flood insurance when they live below sea level, but can you really criticize them for taking the advice of the federal government and their insurance company, the so-called "experts"? The family is now suing State Farm, because for all intents and purposes, in not paying them anything, the insurance company is penalizing the family for taking their advice.

          Now in MS things are very different in that all that damage was storm related, but still one of the majors (State Farm?) pulled out of the state and denied the claims in those towns mentioned in the Taylor quote.

  •  Absolutely Disgusting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonscribe, OHdog, Hens Teeth

    I saw this story last week on Raw, they have the video clip too from C-SPAN:
    Democrat silenced on House floor for Katrina remark

    Overall, corruption is tolerated even enabled when it benefits the elites but when someone uses their FEMA money for a purpose that we don't agree with boy let's make a huge story out of that.

    And he was re-instated by a vote of 265-160. Total jerks, it wasn't unanimous? Can't you cut the guy some slack? His district is still today dealing with Katrina, today - everyday.

  •  Thanks for the diary...Katrina continues (5+ / 0-)

    to haunt me...

    •  Comment and rec these (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's so important and this diary is a great reminder that Katrina is everyday for people in the region. If you don't live there then it's like it happened in the past, but it's today and everyday for evryone in the region.

  •  Gene Taylor is my Rep. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, commonscribe

    He is right about the matching fund thing, there's practically no homes in Waveland at all(people are living in campers). I sometimes drive up that way, but it's depressing.  They have no government buildings, all of that is in quanza huts.  Most of our public buildings in Bay Saint Louis are in tents and trailors.  My five year old starts kindergarten next year in a trailer.  These trailer schools will not withstand tornadoes, common in this area.

    What kills me is that there has not been a shred of oversight in the millions of Katrina dollars spent by the federal government, but as soon as you ask to money in the hands of the people, all of a sudden there's a 360.

  •  Will you or I get banned for questioning (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mbair, commonscribe, Hens Teeth

    the decency of any and all government officials who refuse to do right by the victims of Katrina? I mean what a stupid rule. The fact is anyone who has abandoned the victims of Katrina have no decency left and they should be called on it no matter where they are, if it's the House of Represenatives or the White House.

    "I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." Robert A. Heinlein

    by Wes Opinion on Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 05:45:20 AM PDT

  •  I'm leaving for Bay St Louis this morning (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with a group of 23. And this crap is just what I needed to light the fire in my belly.

    To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult of all -Goethe

    by commonscribe on Sat Mar 31, 2007 at 06:13:38 AM PDT

  •  story (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    story in the NYT today.

    thanks for the diary - this is so maddening and frustrating.

    i'm heading down to n.o. in two weeks to spend a week building w/habitat for humanity.  (i've read about some concerns regarding their effectiveness, re building new homes instead of rebuilding. if anyone has any suggestions for other organizations, please let me know.)

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