That would be "Anything But New Orleans", as reflected in the whopping bill, ostensibly to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and anywhere else we may be planning wars), along with a number of other domestic "priorities". According to the AP, the domestic spending includes:
OTHER SPENDING -- $10.1 billion for various foreign aid programs, including $1.9 billion for international food aid and $465 million for Mexico to combat drug trafficking; $5.8 billion for Louisiana levee repairs and construction; $4.6 billion for military base construction; $400 million for "competitiveness" programs, energy research and medical research; and $210 million to address cost overruns involving the 2010 census.
That damn census overrun. By contrast, Louisiana's Congressional delegation had sought to include in the bill $157 million to help New Orleans hospitals cope with the crisis caused by the flooding of several local hospitals when the federal levees failed. Chief among those flooded hospitals was "Big Charity", the downtown Art Deco building that was the centerpiece of the state's unique commitment to provide medical care for the poor and indigent. Guess where those folks have gone for medical care since the flood? The emergency rooms of the private hospitals for whom that $157 million would provide temporary fiscal relief.
The story is, of course, more complex. Some personnel who worked at Big Charity and have seen it since the flooding say it's repairable, but LSU, which operated it, prefers to build a grand new teaching hospital downtown. The feds also prefer to not rebuild a component of Huey Long's Charity Hospital system, preferring to send the poor and indigent to....well, neighborhood clinics, for one thought. And, a few neighborhood clinics have sprung up in New Orleans, staffed by volunteer doctors, to fill part of the need.
Meantime, those private hospitals whose emergency rooms are providing the bulk of the care for the poor and indigent are on their own
But combating Mexican drug trafficking, a program which is working so well, gets a nice big infusion of funding. Priorities.
UPDATE (FRIDAY): The Times-Picayune reports on another item left out--and those of you denouncing New Orleans for its crime problem please take note:
The $75 million package contained about $17 million for New Orleans to rebuild the crime lab, hire new assistant district attorneys and expand a drug court program.
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