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Bush owns this one, lock, stock and barrel

Michael in NY at AmericaBlog is spot on with this one. Bush owns this disaster. He is first president to cut funding for levee strengthening and flood protection. He can’t point to anyone else, not the hurricane, not another administration, not a state government or a city official — he’s the one that didn’t do his damn job to shore up the levees. He’s the one that let the cash flow freely for his Iraq folly, but wouldn’t spend the $14 billion necessary to do the overhaul the levees to withstand storms worse than a Cat 3. (Michael notes that we spend that much in Iraq every six weeks).

Every President since Nixon understood that and made sure the levees were strengthened. Every President but Bush. Bush attacked the levee system with unprecedented glee. He cut funding for flood protection by 80%. He let mostly oil and gas companies gobble up the wetlands that act as a natural defense for New Orleans at a rate of 25 square miles a year. And read this:

But the skimping has worsened since President Bush’s election, particularly after September 11. Federal spending on flood control in south-east Louisiana has been cut by almost half since 2001, from $69 million per year to $36.5 million. Funds for work at Lake Pontchartrain, the source of the flooding, have fallen by nearly two-thirds over three years, from $14.25 million to $5.7 million. As a result, work on New Orleans’ east bank hurricane levees stopped last summer for the first time in 37 years.

Every President since Nixon knew maintaining the levees was important, essential work. But it ground to a halt on Bush’s watch because he didn’t care. Nixon worked to maintain the levees. Ford worked to maintain the levees. Carter worked to maintain the levees. Reagan worked to maintain the levees. Clinton worked to maintain the levees. Even his own father worked to maintain the levees. But George Bush abandoned ship. Work on maintaining the levees had been going on for four decades and it ground to a halt on Bush’s watch. Like Cheney, he had “other priorities.”

George Bush is solely responsible for cutting funds to the marrow and letting levee work grind to a halt last summer for the first time since 1968.

For most people, the rule is “you break it; you own it.” Thanks to his dereliction of duty, for Bush the rule is clearly “You own it; you break it.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding