Bush's New Orleans
Rebuilding Scam

By Wayne Madsen
Bush announces plan to help big business to "recover" from Hurricane Katrina. Speaking in a Karl Rove-staged photo op from New Orleans last night, President Bush announced a series of measures that will ensure tax breaks for big business, a permanent Diaspora for the city's poor, and the future gentrification of poor and middle class sections of the flooded city. The Bush speech was full of corporate contrivances that dodge the type of assistance that is actually needed for the displaced population of the New Orleans metropolitan region.
Bush recently named CIA Leakgate suspect Karl Rove as his point man for the rebuilding efforts on the Gulf Coast. The Bush speech reflected both Rove's emphasis on spin and a lack of interest in the plight of the poor. Although Bush accepted responsibility for the "problem" of his administration's poor response effort, he quickly diverted his priorities to workers' recovery accounts (something that sounds suspiciously like medical savings accounts); a "Gulf Opportunity Zone" offering big tax breaks to corporations in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama; and a homestead lottery scheme to build homes on federal lands.
Bush did not address the immediate and long-term focused concerns for the people of the Gulf Coast. For example, FEMA continues to block needed assistance to the homeless residents of the region.
Bush failed to provide incentives for people to return to their homes. He also failed to insist on incentives for minority-owned businesses to participate in rebuilding efforts. Yesterday, Rev. Jesse Jackson told a Washington, DC press conference that there are 300 trucks in Memphis loaded with ice, water, and food with an additional 1000 trucks standing by at warehouses across the country. These trucks have not been granted permission by FEMA to move out to the Gulf Coast, where some poor towns, particularly in Mississippi, have not yet seen either FEMA or the Red Cross. 1800 children are still separated from their parents and Bush said nothing to assure parents and their children that they will soon be reunited.
What many members of the Congressional Black Caucus and African American national leadership have called for in relief and reconstruction efforts were not addressed by Bush.
There were no proposals by Bush for
* an "adopt-a-family" tax credit
* a one-time FEMA help grant for orphaned and homeless children
* a bankruptcy relief provision, provide temporary housing at all available federal government assets (including many closed military bases in the Gulf Coast region)
* the setting of a 50 percent residency target for all contracts
* setting a 40 percent minority vendor target for all reconstruction
* a moratorium on all contracts until civil rights provisions are restored (Davis Bacon minimum wage requirements, minority contract set asides)
* permit the admittance of minority community-based counselors in evacuation facilities nationwide
* Justice Department assistance in individual cases of arrested and detained individuals, ensure evacuees can vote in state and local elections (including February 2006 election)
* ensure home owners have the right of first refusal to reclaim property
* freeze all foreclosures against property in affected area for a minimum of 12 months
* legal protections against predatory lenders
* prohibition of collections and deficiency judgments on real and personal property
* prohibition on negative credit reporting or omission of negative events from credit scores
* voluntary waiver of late fees or interest on loans for a period of at least three months
* establish a diverse commission to monitor the equitable distribution of relief resources by FEMA,
the Red Cross, and Salvation Army
* develop an action plan to secure wetlands in coastal areas of the U.S.
* stop the rollback and waivers of environmental laws
* and develop a comprehensive strategy to address the poverty crisis in America.
Many Gulf Coast residents see a lot of promises from Bush's plan with no guarantees he will follow through. Already, House and Senate conservative Republicans are carping about the Federal price tag for the reconstruction. These include Sen. John McCain, who is already politicking for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination on the backs of the people of the Gulf Coast who lost everything. McCain has no problem spending billions of dollars on a failed war in Iraq -- a ploy by McCain to further ingratiate himself to the neo-cons in the Republican Party.
Bush asks America to trust him to plan the recovery of the Gulf Coast when he couldn't even plan to use the potty before addressing the United Nations on its 60th anniversary. The fool embarrassed America before 160 assembled world leaders. A Reuters photographer snapped this unforgettable presidential bloated bladder moment.



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