The economic stimulus signed by President Barack Obama will spread billions of dollars across the country to spruce up aging roads and bridges. But there’s not a dime specifically dedicated to fixing leftover damage from Hurricane Katrina.
And there’s no outrage about it.
Democrats who routinely criticized President George W. Bush for not sending more money to the Gulf Coast appear to be giving Obama the benefit of the doubt in his first major spending initiative. Even the Gulf’s fiercest advocates say they’re happy with the stimulus package, and their states have enough money for now to address their needs.
“I’m not saying there won’t be a need in the future, but right now the focus is not on more money, it’s on using what we have,” said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who has criticized Democrats and Republicans alike over Katrina funding.
It’s a significant change in tone from the Bush years, when any perceived slight of Katrina victims was met with charges that the Republican president who bungled the initial response to the disaster continued to callously ignore the Gulf’s needs years later.
Just last summer, Democrats accused Bush of putting Iraq before New Orleans when he sought to block Gulf Coast reconstruction money from a $162 billion war spending bill. Bush was pilloried for not mentioning the disaster in back-to-back State of the Union addresses.
Former Rep. Jim McCrery, R-La., who helped lead the fight for Gulf aid before retiring last year, said he was surprised over the lack of Katrina money in the bill, but figures lawmakers may be granting Obama leniency due to the magnitude of the country’s current economic challenges.
“Any new president is going to have a little honeymoon,” said McCrery, who is now a lobbyist. “I’d like to think that the tone would have been the same with any new president.”
The hypocrisy level is growing to noticeable proportions in Washington DC now. The disaster that Katrina was, is nothing in comparison to the destruction the President’s stimulus bill is going to elicit.