Thursday, January 26, 2006
[New Orleanians] feel, sir, that this is a certain betrayal of your promise that New Orleans would rise again. So, why did you reject [the Baker plan] and do you think the people of New Orleans have to expect that there is a limit to which the city can be rebuilt?
President Bush 1/26:
The plan for Louisiana hasn't come forward yet. And I urge the officials -- both state and city -- to work together so we can get a sense for -- how they're going to proceed.
A lot of the money we're spending is prescribed by law. But we also went a step further and proposed to Congress -- and they accepted -- CBG (Community Block Grants) money so the monies can go directly to individual families that need help.
[oy note: Bush originally proposed a scant $1.5 billion in Community Development Block Grants financing for the entire Gulf Coast!! That's about $800 million less than the construction and operating costs for the new U.S. embassy in Iraq.]
We'll continue to work with the folks down there. But I want to remind people in that part of the world that $85 billion is a lot.
And secondly, we were concerned about creating additional federal bureaucracies which might make it harder to get money to the people."
Thanks for the reminder about how much money we've "received" down here. Sounds like we'll hear that $85 billion number over and over in coming weeks. If the U.S. has already spent $85 billion "in this part of the world", I can finally understand why democracy building in Iraq will cost a trillion or two.
That reminds me, what is it with the prez and his relentless emphasis that the Gulf Coast is a "part of the world"? Just another helpful reminder, I guess. As we worry that the rest of the United States has forgotten us, the prez keeps saying we're in a "part of the world"... That Bush is so dadgum folksy.
Let's take a look at some selections from a single speech recently delivered by Bush 1/12/06 in St. Louis, MS:
I want to thank Roy Bernardi, who is the Deputy Secretary of HUD. He's going to have some stuff to do to make sure this part of the world rebounds. I like your Mayors. They're down-to-earth people. They are good, solid people. (Applause.)
I remember when Haley invited me down, and he said -- I think we were in a tent at that time, and there wasn't a lot of electricity, it was like an old-time daytime revival without electricity. It was hot in the tent -- it was the first meeting, I think, at least the first called meeting of the commission headed by Jim Barksdale. Citizens from all walks of life, all occupations, all aimed at one thing: putting together a strategy that will help this part of the world become even better than it was before.
I can remember people hollering for trailers. We became the largest consumer of trailers probably in the history of mankind. (Laughter.) And I know it was slow to begin with. The production needed to be ramped up, and, frankly, the government crowded out other purchasers in order to set priorities for people down in this part of the world.
One of the important -- and by the way, speaking about jobs, not only we got to make sure people have the skills necessary to fill the jobs, the federal government has got a lot of facilities down here, and there's a lot of federal employees in this part of the world. We're going to rebuild the federal facilities so that the people will be able to work. (Applause.)
Congress did a smart thing, in my judgment -- was to provide tax incentives for businesses who are in this part of the world. They provide taan investment in this part of the worldx incentives for small businesses to expense up to $200,000 of investment and private -- and incentive for all businesses to provide a 50-percent bonus depreciation for investment made. What I'm telling you is, it's kind of economic talk for saying, if somebody spends money in this part of the world they get a tax incentive to do so.
The other thing that happened quickly -- and I'm real proud of your folks down here -- was that the energy sector rebounded unbelievably fast. This part of the world is really important for national security and economic security of the United States of America. Remember when the storms hit, a lot of folks were really worried about the price of crude oil and gasoline.
Our Coast Guard, by the way, provided invaluable service here in this part of the country. (Applause.)
Part of the recovery of this part of the world is going to be when you get your infrastructure up and running. And I can remember first choppering over here and seeing the incredible devastation done to the bridges and highways. First of all, there has been some incredible construction done. The Slidell Bridge there, to the west of you, got up in record time. It's amazing what happens when you provide a completion bonus for people doing work. (Laughter.)
And I know you're concerned about the I-90 bridge. But they're getting ready to start on it, as I understand. And the bills I've signed provide $2.3 billion for repair of highways and bridges in this part of the world. That's going to provide not only jobs, but it's going to make the quality of life come back to what it was. You're dependent upon good highways and good bridges in this part of the world. The government recognized that and put the money out there available for reimbursing the states when they get these highway projects moving.
And school districts all over America took children from Louisiana and Mississippi and helped educate them. It was really remarkable to watch the education system rise to the challenge. In the bill there is $1.6 billion worth of operating money. It was money to help these schools stay afloat; it was to reimburse school districts for taking in the children who had evacuated to their part of the world.
And for good measure this classic from Mobile, AL:
The faith-based groups and the community-based groups throughout this part of the world, and the country for that matter, are responding....
Again, I want to thank you all for -- and, Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job. The FEMA Director is working 24 -- (applause) -- they're working 24 hours a day.
Again, my attitude is, if it's not going exactly right, we're going to make it go exactly right.
And now we're going to go try to comfort people in that part of the world.
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