The myth of Katrina aid
Thomas Oliphant in the Boston Globe today:
That number is $29 billion.
This is presumably the sum just voted for the task of shifting from cleanup to actual reconstruction -- of both properties and lives.
I say presumably because the number turns out to be a fraud. In fact, it represents the allocation of large sums of money that Congress has already appropriated. More precisely, much less than half of it -- about $11.5 billion -- is what they call ''new" grant money. The rest is simply the result of the reshuffling of already appropriated sums.
Perhaps you recall the atmosphere in September in the immediate aftermath of the horror that Katrina wreaked. Within three weeks, Congress had passed, and Bush had signed into law, roughly $62 billion in appropriations to pay for the massive cleanup .
Nearly four months later, depending on which agency's figures you prefer, no more than a third of that money has been spent. The list of cleanup tasks not completed is prodigious -- from piles of debris to polluted neighborhoods to tent cities and trailer park communities to the tens of thousands of families still huddled in motels.
Always inventive, what the government really did was repackage all this ''assistance" for the purpose of creating the illusion in the current budget mess that something meaningful is happening when nothing could be further from the truth.