In the unfortunate utterances department, Rep. Tom Feeney of Florida alluded to suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act by saying “Lots of people in Louisiana are willing to go to work tomorrow, and the market will set the wage.” So, Republican Tom apparently wants no-bid contractors to be able to skin the victims for wages.
But if Democrats think they’re going to get a lot of mileage out of the current mismanagement of hurricane Katrina, they’ve another think coming. This mess is a bipartisan disaster by every possible measurement. Witness the recent Transportation Bill, a cornucopia of small minded big plans to bring home the bacon in every congressional district.
It’s always been that way, Katrina just makes it a little more evident.
So now, each party quick to draw blood with their long-simmering agendas, the Republicans hope to
- Permanently roll back the Davis-Bacon Act, written three quarters of a century ago to require federal contractors to pay prevailing wages
- Increasing by a hundred-fold the $2,500 limits to holders of federal credit-cards for no-bid spending
- Expanding school vouchers, using the displaced schoolchildren from Katrina damaged cities as an excuse
- Give money directly to faith-based groups for use as they see fit in the dissemination of social services (so much for the separation of faith-based and state)
For their part, the Democrats have been quick to come back with
- An expansion of Medicade for Katrina survivors, regardless of income
- Expanding the use of federal rent vouchers, again regardless of income
- A plan to drive a stake through the heart of further tax cuts for the wealthy
And so it goes, bad legislation for all the wrong reasons in order to out-headline the other party. Tom DeLay’s spokesman was early out of the box with the statement that “the important thing is to empower and encourage anyone who is willing and able to help to administer emergency help.” That’s two ‘helps’ in one sentence, which may be dicey grammar but leaves out the most significant ‘help’ of all, the helping of one’s self to a part of that $250,000 credit card limit.
Folks are just lined up to help with that.
Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, jumped into the quote race with a comment about opening Medicade to singles or childless couples. “Would you want to be the fellow that tells a single man or childless couple we’re going to take care of their next-door neighbor and we are not going to take care of them when both are wiped out by the flood? I don’t want to be the guy that does that.”
Apparently it’s perfectly all right to tell the single guy or childless couple they’re out of luck if they were wiped out by job loss or any of a number of catastrophes unrelated to Katrina.
Not content with that unfortunate utterance, Dingell went on to explain his motivation “is to help people who are desperate” and to give states an incentive to help survivors with health care “without going broke.” It was unclear who was going broke, the people or the state. But there was no doubt about John’s personal prejudice concerning which survival generates his (and his party’s) good will and which can go to hell, directly to hell, without passing GO. There are more reasons for desperation than hurricanes, John.
Dick Cheney said on September 10th, "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." Listen for the sound of another towel being thrown in. Nearly four years ago to the day, very nearly the same words were spoken at the World Trade Center. The intervening time was an absolute dead-heat in Republican and Democratic incompetence.
In both cases, the only response Congress and the administration could muster was to spend their way into re-election.