The President spoke about an hour ago about the preparations for Hurricane Isaac (it has now graduated to hurricane force), asking residents to listen to their local officials and follow calls for evacuation should they arise. President Obama also signed a state of emergency declaration for Louisiana, which makes federal funding available for emergency efforts to deal with the storm.
This isn’t good enough for Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Jindal, a Republican, shot back late Monday in a letter to the Obama administration that the declaration fell short of the help he was requesting.
“We appreciate your response to our request and your approval,” Jindal wrote. “However, the state’s original request for federal assistance …. included a request for reimbursement for all emergency protective measures. The federal declaration of emergency only provides for direct federal assistance.”
So Jindal wants immediate reimbursement from the federal government to support government-based efforts to protect the citizens of Louisiana. And he justifies this by saying that “A core responsibility of the federal government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens when threatened.”
Pardon me for snickering.
This is a dispute about the timing of federal dollars, not the acquisition of them. Jindal wants the $8 million spent on emergency preparedness now, when he’ll get many times that from the feds. But the intellectual underpinning is quite rich. Jindal is the guy who, in 2009, mocked the President’s stimulus package for containing “something called volcano monitoring”. Of course, volcano monitoring protects the lives and property of the citizens when threatened, in fairly obvious ways.
The insistence of fiscal conservatives to stop the spending (which only afflicts them when a Democrat enters the White House) always runs up against immediate needs when their constituencies are threatened. And sometimes not even then; you’ll remember that Eric Cantor denied earthquake disaster relief funding for his own district last year without offsets elsewhere in the federal budget. I guess Jindal isn’t as married to the budgetary objectives.
Fortunately, House conservatives did back down on their threat to block additional flexibility on disaster relief spending from the budget, after OMB found some additional funds. So the feds do actually have that money Jindal seeks.