Pork replaces Katrina & Iraq spending
Not that I'm surprised one bit, but isn't it nice to know that our Congr– the Republican-controlled Congress cares about its people…the rich corporate ones, that is.
From Peter Whoriskey in the Washington Post:
This city's east side remains largely abandoned, a bleak panorama of empty lots and abandoned homes left behind by the tradesmen, shrimpers and casino workers who once lived here.
Hundreds had little or no insurance. For people such as 83-year-old Elzora Brown, a retired dry-cleaning presser whose little frame house was waterlogged up to the eaves, there's not enough federal disaster aid for repairs. "Whatever the Lord sees fit, that's what I'll have," she said.
Just down the coast in Pascagoula, defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. similarly didn't have enough insurance to cover hurricane losses at its shipyards. But the company isn't awaiting divine intervention.
It had an ally in the U.S. Senate and is slated to receive $140 million for rebuilding.
Critics have pointed to the bill as a monumental example of earmarking taken to extremes, with many noting that while the bill was supposed to address "emergency" spending for the war and Katrina relief, many of the outlays had little to do with an emergency, the war or the hurricane.
Usually the critics attack earmarks as wasteful, but the experience in Mississippi reveals another problem, according to some local officials here. No one doubts that the state needs recovery money. The question is whether some of the earmarks for Gulf Coast projects such as Northrop's are coming at the expense of the urgent needs reflected in the abandoned streets.
Among the projects in the Senate version of the bill are $38 million to repair historic Mississippi properties such as Jefferson Davis's home overlooking the beach in Biloxi; $176 million to build a military retirement home in Gulfport; and the biggest project, $700 million to buy an 80-mile stretch of railroad over which a new highway would be built. That project, which has become known as the "railroad to nowhere," was inserted into the bill by Lott and Mississippi's other senator, Thad Cochran (R), chairman of the Appropriations Committee. It would reroute a train line damaged by Katrina — and already rebuilt at a cost of at least $250 million. [emphasis mine]
"What they're saying to Northrop Grumman is 'Here — here's $140 million. Go get yourself back together,' " said Bill Stallworth, a Biloxi City Council member running a relief center out of a church building here. "What we're saying is 'Look, people, we need more money to get people back in their homes. We need housing. Volunteers can't do it all.' " He said that if the volunteer building crews he uses could just hire a handful of licensed plumbers and electricians, they could increase the number of homes being rebuilt in the area from 10 a month to 100. But there isn't enough money.
Welcome to BushWorld….where money goes where it's least needed.
What none of these Congressional piggies seem to realize is that giving money to corporations and pet projects – under the guise of re-starting the economy – in an area where people have no homes is just plain stupid. Most places would see a more effective, longer-term boost to their economies if the people are spending on home improvements and the like.
Read the full article here.