Friday, September 09, 2005

Government to the rescue

Yesterday a 51.8 billion relief package was approved by congress to help fund the recovery of the Gulf Coast region which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, as the Boston Globe tells us, the Bush administration detailed it's own extensive relief plans for the victims:

Bush said the government would quickly deliver $2,000 debit cards to heads of households displaced by the storm, and said all residents of counties declared as disaster areas would be granted ''evacuee status." The designation will make residents available for a range of federal benefits, including mental health counseling, housing, child care, and nutrition programs, the president said.

Sounds pretty compassionate of our President, huh? But the Globe knows better:

Bush, under fire from an array of critics for a lackluster reaction after the deadly hurricane, used the announcement to portray himself as engaged and involved in the government's plans to help the victims. The president declared a national day of prayer and remembrance for Katrina victims next Friday, and Vice President Dick Cheney toured the devastation of New Orleans and Gulfport, Miss., his first trip to the disaster zone.

I think I understand, now. All of this aid and funding by the administration is simply a PR effort to portray Bush and Cheney as real human beings. Kind of like Boston Globe portrays itself as a real newspaper.

Like an emergency $10.5 billion package passed late last week, the extra $51.8 billion in aid to hurricane victims swept through Congress with broad bipartisan support last night. Still, Democrats kept up their fierce critique of the president, then offered an assistance plan of their own.

Senate minority leader Harry Reid unveiled his party's proposal for more direct assistance to affected residents, including guaranteed Medicaid health coverage for affected residents, housing vouchers for evacuees, access to federal facilities for temporary shelter, and six-month waivers on any loan payments or financial obligation to the federal government.

''After everything that has happened with FEMA, is there anyone who believes that we should continue to let the money go to FEMA and be distributed by them?" said Reid, Democrat of Nevada.

Certainly not. I think that the money should be distributed by a responsible body... such as congress. We all saw what they did with that highway bill last month...

Reid, as we remember, had this to say shortly after passing the first relief package last Friday:

[...]"our unified response sends a powerful signal to victims of this tragedy looking for signs that their government sees their plight and stands with them during this dark time.

"In these days ahead, it is important we continue to send this strong, unified message. We must work together not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans united in helping families torn apart by this devastating storm,"

Way to stick with that unified message, Harry.

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