Tuesday, 23 August 2016 15:31

Trump wins first Louisiana flood debate, 3 Republicans in bailout storm's eye

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eye stormThis past week, Louisiana has been involved in an insipid debate relating to hurricane recovery and political grandstanding. Unfortunately, we all have been a loser in this exchange.

There is an upcoming dispute that is many times more serious.  This future deliberation will have serious impact upon tens of thousands of Louisiana citizens--much more than last week's pitiful PR contest on display on TV and social media.  At that time, we discussed which presidential candidate did what and whether our president could see beyond the 18th-hole.

Let me first touch upon last week's discussion. While I believe Donald Trump never would have visited Louisiana but for the fact that he's a candidate, of course, I'm glad that he did so, helped shed light on the viciousness of the waters of destruction. Plus, his large contribution helps many desperately, in need.

President Barack Obama indeed should have at least made some type of public statement.  As a result of not showing face,  his foes and others lashed out at him, just like President Bush’s critics did, 11 years ago, after Hurricane Katrina.  This time, it was opportunity for republicans to call democrats, the hypocrites.  Last week, republicans constantly reminded Democrats that they had blasted Bush for not being on the ground days after that crises.

However, those who seem to detest Obama over everything, are totally off-base when they claim that the president did nothing. He sent top administration government officials from FEMA and Homeland security.  He has approved the disaster declaration which fast-starts the recovery for 20 impacted-parishes.  Many of our families will get more assistance, quicker.


The more important issues, however, are the soon-to-be litigated major skirmish over federal funding. Louisiana will be at the eye of the storm.  Of course, the hurricane season is not over, nor are we, or any vulnerable state free from future concerns.  According to recent reports, over 110,000 houses have been damaged.  Right now, the projected cost might be 20 billion dollars, or more.  An unthinkable percentage of homeowners are flood-insurance-barren because of the existing FEMA maps.  Those homeowners were not required to obtain flood insurance. The conventional wisdom among the insurance and real estate industry had been--"you are not on the FEMA flood map, don't worry, you don’t need flood insurance".

Our country has helped Louisiana and other states in their unbearable times of need, particularly Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  I believe they would want to help save us again.  This is what our country does.  This is what our government does.

The country is the most benevolent of any.  That has been proven time and time again.

However, for political reasons, three Louisiana Congressmen opted not to help fund the Hurricane Sandy recovery which inflicted devastation and horror upon our friends in the Northeast.  Unfortunately, this was a political decision based upon the horrible budgetary and national deficit that we have allowed this century.  Nobody should second-guess anybody wanting to be prudent and fiscally cautious guardians of our treasury. These three congressmen, John Fleming, current House Whip Steve Scalise, and then, Congressman Bill Cassidy (now US Senator) all republicans, opted not to grant funding.  When you don't have the money, when our deficit widens every second, you simply can't spend it.  But, having our collective hands out pleading for funding after those storms and knowing that Louisiana will be hit again and again, the absolutely insane and incompetent thing to have done was to deny the same type of assistance to others.  We should hardly be surprised that large publications nationally are now pointing out our hypocracies and our current vulnerabilities. 

Last week, I wrote about this very issue plus the fact that we are either on life support or dead last in the most powerful contest, Congressional seniority.  Not only does our helpless hands reaching outward look greedy and selfish, but, we’re now fighting with both paws behind our backs.  Seniority is no longer our ally.  Actually, in a world where dollars are coveted and every state fights for its own many need,  not having seniority can be almost suicidal.

Two years ago, I stated often and openly that removing Sen. Mary Landrieu from her powerful US Senate seat would be incredibly foolish.  Not only did she know the ropes, she had led the charge a decade ago post-Katrina, and, most importantly, she wielded enormous stroke.   Many of my friends and political associates, primarily due to one vote, Obamacare, wanted Landrieu out at all costs.  To them, if Obama was the devil, she was the devil’s wife.  I could not believe my eyes nor my ears when my conservative friends, in trying to diminish her importance and our need for her influence, would equate hurricane and disaster assistance as pork.  I was astounded when they told me we did not need federal money for anything, and especially not for an event like Katrina.  For them, Katrina was a thousand-year storm and we had another 990-years left to go for the next encounter of a catastrophic kind. 

I heard these arguments over and over.  No matter what I said or did in my contending that if a disaster were to engulf us again, we will be swimming up a flooded street without a paddle, their counter- responses were, Landrieu needs to go.    For many of them, seniority and influence was irrelevant.  The fact was then and increasingly so now, Louisiana has been a very weak state even with Landrieu but would be increasingly impotent, without her.  We have been losing Congressional firepower over the decades, losing two over the past two census counts.   

So, two years ago, Louisiana voted Landrieu out.  The election focus was on national issues, Obama, not local matters such as projects.  Actually, and amazingly, many political voices contended that local projects were a curse.


Now we're left in the sorry and frankly, pitiful, position of federal frailty.  Our now-senior Senator, David Vitter, who most of Congress has disliked and who has not passed any major legislation, is departing in January.  Our current junior Senator, Cassidy, possesses a whopping two-years-experience in the upper chamber.  Not to take away from Cassidy's abilities, but the simple fact is, a people cannot compete without seniority and its incumbent influence.  Plus, a people cannot assume that the worst will not happen, for it will, and it did, for us again, ten days ago.

It also does not help that many politicos in the oil-dependent Louisiana contends that global warming is a hoax.  Whether or not green energy is your favorite color, the fact remains, others in the country blame the oil producers for heating up the skies, thus, reaping the sow, they wrought.  Thus, many in America believe Louisiana is not being responsible and therefore, deserves not to be awarded billions, again.

On top of this, we have the outrageous position that our most powerful person in the House of Representatives, Steve Scalise, voted against helping others at a similar time of need.  So, how in hurricane heaven is he going to be able to convince other members of the house, particularly those with long ears of memory in the American northeast, that  Louisiana went AWOL when they were climbing their own walls, in water-escaping panic?  Worst, with this being an election year and Republicans running on a ticket of severe deficit spending, you can bet another Louisiana bailout will find a short supply of supporters. 

Likewise, Senator Bill Cassidy has fried-egg covering his face for his own refusal to fund others when their own water-soaked homes were decaying.  And Congressman Fleming is running for U.S. Senate.  Which means, he will have to explain to those Louisiana voters why he is not a "dead-man walking" should he become US Senator as he makes the argument in favor of bailout revisited.  Then, should he win and if funding is not in place, good luck for the rookie, especially if the Hurricane Irene-survivor democrat from New York, U.S. Senator Chuck Shumer becomes Majority Leader.  Even if republican Mitch McConnell holds on to his seat as top dog Senator, having both Cassidy and Fleming as frequent reminders of abandonment, is not a place to begin the debate.

So for those who want to scream "rah rah" about one candidate's public relations opportunity to do good, let's hope his short stay has a long impact.  It is understandable why we should feel hurt by the President's absence.  It also is understandable why the Republican party, late last week, slammed Obama and Hillary Clinton for their not feeling our pain as public as Donald Trump displayed.  The simple fact is, the President failed to pull himself from the tee. 

So, now that the race to show who cares the most during the crises first week is over, the debate shifts.  Now, the larger question posed, is--whether those outraged will be at least, equally teed off, if money fails to come in full flourish, soon.

My fear is, due to very tight dollars, many of us won’t like the next political hurricane. 

It will not be pretty. The tide now turns to those voters who saw no value in maintaining the state's Senatorial power and veers towards republican lawmakers who, for whatever reason, just could not understand the most obvious.

What goes around, comes back around and then, goes around again.

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