Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bush Administration Opposed to Baker Bill

Congressman Richard Baker (R-Baton Rouge, LA) has been trying for months to get a bill passed that would form a government entity which would draw on federal financing to pay at least 60 percent equity of the more than 200,000 homes that were damaged by flood. It would have also have paid off the mortgages. After some time, the original owners would have first dibs to buy back the property from the government, but if they didn't, the government would own the property. It could sell it, or convert it into green space, whatever. It was a plan that many of us in Louisiana needed. Therese and I had flood insurance, as we needed it when we bought our house. But we're still not sure what our insurance company is going to offer us in a settlement. There is a good chance that at the end of the day Therese and I will be making mortgage payments on a structure that we bought for $157,000, had appreciated to about $215,000 before the hurricane, and now will require about $150,000 to repair it. So in the end it might not be worth sinking in so much money into a damaged house, and we then would have to declare bankruptcy, and the bank would then own the damaged house. There are thousands more in a similar situation. Pretty much all recovery plans for this region were counting on the Baker Bill. Moreover, it wouldn't have cost tax payers a thing, so it seemed like a no brainer to pass. However, today I read that Donald Powell, appointed by Bush to oversee recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, said he is not in favor of the Baker Bill. This news came as a real suprise to politicians and citizens down here in New Orleans. Powell said that the 6 billion Congress approved for a grant will be plenty for Louisiana, and that the money should only help those who flooded who didn't live in a flood prone area. So again, it would seem, the government fails to understand the level of devestation, and we in Louisiana are on our own. Todays Times-Picayune has more on this sad story.


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