Thursday, September 08, 2005

Plenty of Blame to Go Around

Congress might want to look at itself in the mirror before they slam President Bush for providing inadequate funds to prevent New Orleans from flooding, according to this Washington Post article:
Before Hurricane Katrina breached a levee on the New Orleans Industrial Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers had already launched a $748 million construction project at that very location. But the project had nothing to do with flood control. The Corps was building a huge new lock for the canal, an effort to accommodate steadily increasing barge traffic.

Except that barge traffic on the canal has been steadily decreasing.

In Katrina's wake, Louisiana politicians and other critics have complained about paltry funding for the Army Corps in general and Louisiana projects in particular. But over the five years of President Bush's administration, Louisiana has received far more money for Corps civil works projects than any other state, about $1.9 billion; California was a distant second with less than $1.4 billion, even though its population is more than seven times as large.

Much of that Louisiana money was spent to try to keep low-lying New Orleans dry. But hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to unrelated water projects demanded by the state's congressional delegation and approved by the Corps, often after economic analyses that turned out to be inaccurate. Despite a series of independent investigations criticizing Army Corps construction projects as wasteful pork-barrel spending, Louisiana's representatives have kept bringing home the bacon.
This is why I loathe the blame game being played by both federal and state government officials right now because when we look back at this mess a few years down line, we're going to find what has happened in New Orleans was not just the fault of FEMA or President Bush or Mayor Nagin, but rather a combined incompetence by both state and federal government officials at all levels of power and of both party affiliations.