Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has criticized Barack Obama for excessive federal spending, said the president isn’t providing enough funding to cover the costs of Tropical Storm Isaac.
“The speed with which this threat developed has necessitated extraordinary emergency protective measures at the state and local government level,” Jindal, a Republican, wrote in a letter to the Democratic president yesterday evening. “The increased urgency of the situation necessitates that we re- emphasize the request for full federal assistance for the state.”
The president’s declaration doesn’t provide for reimbursement of state expenses and Obama’s order provides only for “direct federal assistance,” Jindal wrote.
Obama didn’t address the governor’s complaint in a news briefing today.
“Yesterday, I approved a disaster declaration for the state of Louisiana so they can get the help that they need right away, particularly around some of the evacuations that are taking place,” he said. “We already have response teams and supplies ready to help communities in the expected path of the storm.”
Louisiana has spent about $8 million so far, nine areas are covered by a mandatory evacuation order and the state has declared an emergency in 34 parishes. School has been canceled and the state has activated more than 4,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard, prepared 300 buses and 5,000 shelters, Jindal said.
The governor has been a critic of federal spending under Obama. He gave the Republican response to Obama’s first state of the union speech in February 2009, attacking stimulus measures he said were larded with waste. He was endorsed as a vice- presidential pick for Romney in May by Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes federal government spending.
“When reality catches up with rhetoric, those extreme right-wing anti-government positions not only don’t work, but advocates of those positions will flip-flop,” Craig Varoga, a Democratic political consultant in Washington and former New Orleans resident, said in a telephone interview today.
The president’s order authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate all relief efforts and provide assistance in 15 parishes. The federal government will pay for 75 percent of the cost of the emergency measures, according to the order, which Obama signed yesterday.
When Hurricane Gustav struck in 2008, Republican President George Bush also authorized the same level of aid as Obama did for Louisiana.
“We make no apologies for fighting for the people of Louisiana, regardless of who is president,” Kyle Plotkin, a Jindal spokesman, said in an e-mail today. “We’ve learned from past experience that you have to push the federal bureaucracy.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Bradley Olson in Baton Rouge at firstname.lastname@example.org; Margaret Newkirk in Atlanta at email@example.com
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