08/28/2007 07:38 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Flooding Didn't Destroy Enough Houses

EN ROUTE TO NEW ORLEANS--Along with other New Orleanians, I've been amazed at the lack of alacrity with which both Republicans and Democrats have approached the problem of a federally caused flood that destroyed or damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, wrecking whole neighborhoods and communities, and spinning half a city's population into involuntary, semi-permanent exile. Now the answer becomes clear: the post-Katrina flooding just didn't destroy enough houses.

Latest estimate, in today's Times-Picayune, 105,000 residential buildings severely damaged in the City of New Orleans alone, a $14 billion loss. Apparently, judging by the turtle-like response, just not enough.

This becomes clear when you consider the heart-pounding race to come up with a plan to cushion the "legions of" subprime borrowers from the consequences of their gullibility, as their low "teaser " interest rates expire (note: they're called teaser rates for a reason).

"Legions," in NYT-speak, may mean millions, but, more importantly, these folks probably live in more than one state. So nationally prominent Democrats, like Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank (Congressman, have you yet been to post-K New Orleans ?) are falling all over themselves to "rescue" people who just couldn't bother to read fine print, who just chose to believe TV commercials about their incredible luck in qualifying for home loans, despite, in many cases, lack of income, jobs or assets (those loans even have an industry codeword--NINJA). For them, home loans became less a subject of sober and prudent financial judgment than an adjunct to Powerball.

According to today's NYT, the "big wave of defaults" "would be crashing during the primary and general election campaigns next year". So, New Orleans, if you want real help, please schedule your next failure of the federal levees during an even-numbered year.