September 8, 2005

ACCORDING TO THE WASHINGTON POST, the problem with New Orleans flood-control wasn’t insufficient money, but an excess of pork-barreling that diverted the money from where it was needed to where Louisiana politicians wanted it:

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. . . .

Pam Dashiell, president of the Holy Cross Neighborhood Association, remembers holding a protest against the lock four years ago — right where the levee broke Aug. 30. Now she’s holed up with her family in a St. Louis hotel, and her neighborhood is underwater. “Our politicians never cared half as much about protecting us as they cared about pork,” Dashiell said.

I think we should set up an independent commission to look at Congress’s responsibility for this tragedy. Oh, and somebody send a copy of this story to Paul Krugman.

UPDATE: Nick Gillespie: “Let’s hope the pols involved get investigated along with everyone else.”

Maybe this idea will catch on. In the meantime, folks might want to start comparing what members of Congress are saying now with how they talked, and voted, before Katrina.

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