I'll be honest, I came down here to NOLA with the plot outline already largely constructed in my mind. I would write a bit about the campaign, maybe we'd have a hand in defeating William Jefferson, and we'd send a message that Democrats don't tolerate corruption on either side of the aisle. That was the talking point, at least. I am still convinced we should help Karen Carter, but for a different reason, one Matt touched on this morning.
A lot has been made of the first 100 hours in the House after Democrats take control this January. There's the minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, and lowering prescription drug costs for Medicare patients. But there is nothing in there about assistance for people in the Gulf Coast.
Maybe in the 101st hour?
On the one year anniversary of the storm Nancy Pelosi said,"We must recover the sense of urgency and common purpose that Katrina evoked and we must answer, finally, the challenge it placed upon our national conscience." She also offered to re-direct earmarks set aside for her district and use them to assist those affected by the storm and subsequent flood -- Pelosi said the people of her district would be "proud of that."
Post-K recovery is indeed a challenge placed upon our national conscience, and I have little doubt the Democratic Congress will make the people of our country proud when they address the issue head-on ... hopefully in the 101st hour. I know everyone is giddy about immediate investigations into what went wrong, it's another chance to whack the Republican Party for its inability to govern and protect the people of America. We'll get those. But there is also a template for action provided by Democratic Representatives Melancon (LA-3) and Taylor (MS-4) called, "Katrina and Beyond" that addresses the regions' needs and a legislative plan for action in the new Congress.
The plan addresses an on-going insurance crisis continuing to plague people of the of region attempting to not only settle claims from the past storm/flood, but will leave many without coverage if and when the next "storm" happens. The plan also makes re-building the levees the levees a priority:
Congress should mandate the construction of a Category 5 levee system and corresponding flood control structures to ensure protection for all residents of metropolitan New Orleans.
We are still at a point in New Orleans where cramped trailers are used as classrooms, with many schools still nowhere near opening for students. The plan also speaks to public infrastructure, health care, re-equiping the National Guard given the stress Iraq has placed on them, establishing "waterborne delivery capability" for relief supplies, and "relieving FEMA of its recovery mission and reassign those responsibilities to the appropriate federal agencies" all but round out the plan. Finally, the current Congress looks set to vote this week on a plan allowing offshore drilling in the region with the funds directed to"restore our coastal wetlands and protect our people and communities from future hurricanes." I know the offshore drilling question makes a lot of folks uncomfortable, but fwiw it's a compromise bill that has near universal support in the area.
But back to the reason MyDD sent me to New Orleans. I still believe we need to elect Karen Carter. Stoller talked a lot about symbols in his post, and I believe our support of Karen can be a powerful one -- one that sends a message more powerful than simple constituent letters to an incoming Majority that assisting the people of the Gulf Coast after the last storm and protecting them from the next one should be a HIGH priority in the new Congress.
The first 100 hours are mapped out, but how about the 101st?