Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Barack Obama decrys the neglect of New Orleans

Another candidate responds to the question of rebuilding New Orleans:

Thank you for contacting me about the egregious negligence of the federal government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, neighborhoods are still deserted; thousands are still homeless or displaced; most public schools are still closed; and police are headquartered in FEMA trailers. There is still a lot of work to do. Going forward, we must not only rebuild New Orleans for all who wish to return, but also ensure that adequate preparations are made for future catastrophes.

After the massive failures of the Bush administration, I helped lead Congressional efforts to bring effective and prompt relief to the Gulf Coast. Together with the Congressional Black Caucus, I introduced the Hurricane Katrina Recovery Act of 2006, which provides comprehensive federal supports for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the reconstruction of New Orleans. In addition, I worked to make all working families that were victims of the disaster eligible for an expanded and refundable Child Tax Credit.

No-bid construction contracts and administrative waste have compounded the governmental failure in New Orleans and further slowed the recovery. To address this problem, I have worked to strengthen government accountability by creating a Chief Financial Officer for federal spending on the Gulf Coast. The CFO would ensure that money is spent appropriately and that all contracts are accessible to local businesses - including small and minority firms - through fair and open competition.

Ultimately, we need to learn from the woeful response to Katrina and make sure that we are better prepared for the next disaster. Prior to Katrina, the federal government did not require localities to make specific plans for safeguarding Americans with special needs. I championed successful legislation that requires special needs planning for future disasters, whether man-made or natural.

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