Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 27, 2009


A report by the Institute for Southern Studies finds that, so far, many Gulf Coast advocates give the administration low marks for their Gulf recovery -- and they don't think Washington has lived up to its promises to make rebuilding a priority.

President Obama had made the federal government's obligation to Gulf Coast rebuilding -- and the Bush administration's failure to fulfill that promise -- a centerpiece of his campaign and agenda. As Obama said on a campaign stop in New Orleans in August 2007, "Let New Orleans be the place where we strengthen those bonds of trust, where a city rises up on a new foundation that can be broken by no storm."

Obama repeated his commitment in New Orleans in February 2008:

The broken promises did not start when a storm hit, and they did not end there . . . I promise you that when I'm in the White House I will commit myself every day to keeping up Washington's end of this trust. This will be a priority of my presidency.

But the Institute's new report, based on surveys with over 50 Gulf Coast community leaders, reveals ongoing frustration with the scope and pace of federal initiatives. . .

Gulf Coast leaders give the Obama administration's recovery efforts a grade of "D+." The only area where Obama ranked higher than a "D" was in the administration's willingness to "publicly acknowledge the challenges facing recovering Gulf Coast communities," which earned a "C-."

The Obama administration scored lowest on tackling some of the biggest recovery priorities, scoring only a "D" for efforts to help displaced families return home, revitalizing infrastructure, increasing coastal hurricane protection and creating living-wage jobs and business opportunities.

Surprisingly, Gulf Coast leaders didn't report much improvement over the previous administration: The Obama's grade of "D+" was only slightly higher than the "D-" grade for President Bush. . .

Gulf Coast advocates view the president's $786 billion stimulus bill passed this spring as another missed opportunity. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the White House announced before the Congressional vote that the bill "would create or preserve fewer jobs in Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District than any in the nation, chiefly because the calculations were based on the district's storm-depleted population."

Congress and the president also passed on proposals for a Gulf Coast Civic Works program for "shovel-ready" green rebuilding, and a recommendation from President Bush's Gulf Coast advisor to inject $1.5 billion into stalled Gulf projects.

This may help explain this report's findings that the current Congress receives similarly low grades from Gulf advocates:

The current 111th Congress received a "D" grade for Gulf recovery -- the highest grade (a "D+") again earned only for members' willingness to "publicly acknowledge challenges."

The "D" grade awarded to the current Congress is almost identical to that given to the previous (110th) Congress, which also scored a "D."

Clearly, many Gulf Coast leaders believe that -- whatever the reasons -- the current leadership in Washington has not lived up to its pledge to strengthen recovery efforts in the region.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Where children are more familiar with poets than NFL players, more familiar with authors than actors, more familiar with illustrators and artists than with athletes, more familiar with inventors and social activists than the names of video games, more familiar with mathematicians and scientists than sit-coms and March Madness"

Laudable as the writer's vision might be, I've got some news for him--in order to achieve that vision, he's going to have to change a lot more than the school system. He's going to have to change an entire shoddy culture that the present school system is just a sad reflection of.

August 27, 2009 6:00 PM  

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