NEW ORLEANS -- Yes, there's bitching and moaning about what's in, and not in, the stimulus package. And then there's this, from last Friday's Times-Picayune:
The giant economic stimulus bill signed into law this week by President Barack Obama will provide $3.8 billion in financing and tax cuts for Louisiana, but none of it is earmarked specifically for hurricane recovery.
My first thought when reading that was, "Damn, three and a half years along, and we're not shovel-ready." Then, in the same paper, there's this:
Regional levee commissioners said Thursday that they fear that the Army Corps of Engineers is running into money problems in its efforts to build better flood protection by 2011 and that to cut costs, the corps might recommend what the commissioners consider to be unacceptable projects.
This, it should be noted, is the new, reformed, professional levee board, not the old political-hack operation. Reform of the levee boards is one of the first successes achieved by citizen action in New Orleans following the 2005 flood.
But back to the stimulus, and the long-running discussion I've been having with HuffPost readers about candidate-now-President Obama's level of commitment to the intelligent and compassionate rebuilding of this city. Here's verbiage from the president on Friday:
"The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who are helping rebuild are heroes who believe in their communities and they are succeeding despite the fact that they have not always received the support they deserve from the federal government," Obama said in a statement. "We must ensure that the failures of the past are never repeated."
But the chief failure of the past was the failure to adequately fund flood-prevention projects designed and constructed by the Army Corps, as well as to subject those designs to rigorous peer review. We appear well on the way to repeating those failures, words to the contrary notwithstanding.