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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sharron Angle Was Right To Insist On Katrina Relief Accountability

Nevada journalist and talk show host John Ralston is trolling for Harry Reid.  Ralston published an article in The Las Vegas Sun on Sunday titled Angle in 2005: I would have voted “no” on Katrina relief funds.

The article is based on a tape given to Ralston by "a Democrat," but the tape does not say what Ralston says.  Here is the audio provided by Ralson with his article.

Ralston says readers should "listen to what she said – I have posted the audio at right – and make your own call."

Ralston gives no transcript with good reason.  All Angle was saying was that she agreed with Mike Pence at the time (there is no date on the audio) that before appropriating tens of billions of dollars, there should be a plan on how to spend it. 

Here is my transcription of the tape Ralston provides (emphasis mine):
I think that government needs to live within its means.  I would like to go and join my voice with Mike Pence and others who when the 62 billion came out to be spent on Katria relief, he said wait a minute, I'm voting no and the reason is because I want to know where it's going, what it's going to be spent on and who is going to be spending it, so I'd like to join my voice there.
That's it.  Angle never says she would have denied relief to Katrina victims. 

Pence eventually voted for the package without the accountability due to political pressures.  Who knows, Angle may have done the same had she been in that position, but to try to put some plan in place before writing a check was the right thing to do.

Contrary to Ralston's claim that the issue was emergency relief to hurricane victims, in fact this legislation was not about pulling people off rooftops or rescuing flood victims; the issue was how to help rebuild devastated areas over a longer term.

And in hindsight Angle was correct to insist on a plan before the taxpayers wrote a blank check for tens of billions of dollars.  Five years later the history of Katrina relief is one of multi-billions in waste, including footballs fields full of unused trailers and vast fraud.

Here is how The NY Times reported on Katrina waste and fraud on June 26, 2006, 'Breathtaking' Waste and Fraud in Hurricane Aid (emphasis mine):
Among the many superlatives associated with Hurricane Katrina can now be added this one: it produced one of the most extraordinary displays of scams, schemes and stupefying bureaucratic bungles in modern history, costing taxpayers up to $2 billion....
The tally of ignoble acts linked to Hurricane Katrina, pulled together by The New York Times from government audits, criminal prosecutions and Congressional investigations, could rise because the inquiries are under way. Even in Washington, a city accustomed to government bloat, the numbers are generating amazement.

"The blatant fraud, the audacity of the schemes, the scale of the waste — it is just breathtaking," said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and chairwoman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Such an outcome was feared soon after Congress passed the initial hurricane relief package, as officials at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross acknowledged that their systems were overwhelmed and tried to create new ones on the fly.
Sharron Angle was right to insist on government accountability rather than government blank checks, even on an issue as important as Katrina relief.  Had Sharron Angle's position been followed, there would have been Katrina relief, but without the historic fraud and waste. 

John Ralston has Google.  He should learn to use it.

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  1. And I doubt whether those figures include the cost for commandeered military assets to transport, then rescue, my former Congressman, and future jailbird, William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson to his flooded house so that he could recover a few things while thousands were still stranded on rooftops.

    But, then again, having plans before voting doesn't seem to be in Congress's skill set.

    Just sayin'.

  2. Politicians talk about the virtues of their plans, but have no incentive to reveal the plans in detail, which would encourange analysis, opposition, and maybe support. Of course, often there is nothing close to a plan written down, and almost always you and I wouldn't call it a plan even if it is written.

    It seems that Democrats are mostly about group-think. Any plausible justification is accepted as an analysis. If everyone jumps on board (they propose), then everying will work out well, or at least we will have the wide agreement that will allow further plans to work. The Republicans are almost as bad.

    The problem is that the press and public does not demand a detailed explanation. Intelligent debate (if any) happens in newspaper articles and blogs, not as an offical part of presenting public policy.

    Most people assume that they can't understand policy, so why demand any details? They haven't been able to understand policy explanations because they haven't been given any offical ones that are intended to make sense.

    Where are the plans in writing supporting government action, so that they may be analyzed and criticized in a reasonable manner? Hiding the details is a political tactic, a fraud on the public, and the mark of tyranny.

    We should ask loudly, how do our representatives know that their legislation will help, or solve anything? The legislative language is less important than the research that should show that the legislation will be of good effect.

    Where are the policy papers, Obama's and Congress's detailed research and justifications for their proposals?