This week marked another visit from an Obama administration official. This time, Vice President Joe Biden brought his usual mix of foolish bravado and inappropriate humor to the region. His visit amounted to nothing of substance for the people of Louisiana. His trip required the diversion of resources from vital clean-up efforts. Biden used his short visit to appear on camera with other politicians and eat seafood. Amazingly, Biden refused to meet with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and only gave this local leader thirty seconds of his time. Biden used the visit for politics and public relations, instead of an opportunity to address the mess created by the federal government. .
Biden discussed the array of tremendous problems impacting our area, but he provided no solutions or hope of relief. The Vice President refused to acknowledge that this crisis has been exacerbated by the incompetence of the federal government.
For example, there are 1,600 skimmers in the country, yet only a fraction is being deployed in the Gulf. President Obama told U.S. Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) that resources could not be diverted from other areas that might face future problems. Yet, we are at war here, this is an EMERGENCY!! There is no sense of urgency from Obama.
The President continues to abide by the Jones Act which prevents foreign ships from being used in the clean-up effort. This act was designed to promote domestic labor unions, but it is hampering our clean up effort. After Hurricane Katrina, President Bush waived this act to allow foreign countries to offer assistance. In this crisis, over thirty countries offered to send resources. In fact, the Netherlands, Great Britain, France and other countries have ships that can clean-up the oil, but those requests have been denied. Finally, this week, the State Department announced that offers of help from twelve nations were accepted, but this is too little, much too late.
While the government thwarts the clean-up by preventing foreign assistance, it also prevents local leaders from taking action. Key parts of a Louisiana dredging project have been stopped by the federal government because of environmental concerns. Yet, if this dredging is not allowed to continue, there may not be a coastal environment to save. In addition, the federal government has stopped a rock dam project near Grand Isle designed to protect valuable fisheries. According to Governor Bobby Jindal, “We need a greater sense of urgency, especially when it comes to the red tape, permits and bureaucracy,”
Based on 74 days of inaction, there seems to be a complete disregard for the plight of this area. If the administration truly cared about the economic well being of Louisiana, there would not be a six month moratorium on deep water drilling. In a conversation with Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, President Obama claimed that laid off workers can collect unemployment benefits. Other administration officials claim that these workers can get a check from the BP escrow fund, but there is confusion about how that fund will be administered and who is eligible. More importantly, the hard working people of Louisiana do not want to rely on unemployment benefits or BP checks, they want to provide a good living for their families.
Many Louisiana workers will undoubtedly have to leave the area and follow the rigs to foreign countries. Brazil, the home of Petrobras, a state owned oil company financed by Democrat benefactor George Soros, will benefit handsomely from this moratorium. It is a shame that Brazil will profit at the expense of Americans. In Brazil, the environmental restrictions are less intense and there is no moratorium on deep water drilling. The country is open for business and is welcoming our departing oil industry.
The utopian views of the Obama administration are downright dangerous. The horrific problem will be made worse by the cap and trade legislation that the President is pushing in the U.S. Senate. By making fossil fuels the enemy, the President is making the state of Louisiana the enemy. In this ecological disaster his administration is not treating the people of Louisiana so poorly that it will be impossible to forget the insult. He is making President Bush’s Hurricane Katrina response seem downright Herculean.
Supposedly this is a war, but if we fought WWII this way, we would be speaking German today. The United States was a country that defeated the Axis powers, rebuilt Japan and Europe and saved the world from fascism. Today, we are a nation that is incapable of dealing with an oil spill in the Gulf and is unable to find methods of providing help to citizens in need. It is a sad testament to the decline of the United States of America and the pathetic leadership emanating from the White House today.
If Obama and Biden are going to play politics instead of helping, it is better if they stay away from the Gulf Coast so we will not have to divert resources to provide security and take responders away from critical missions. Let’s hope we see no more trips like Biden’s visit. It was not only a complete waste of time; it was also a perfect example of the administration’s response to this crisis: long on window dressing, short on results
Jeff Crouere is the Host of “Ringside Politics,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m. weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore. He is the Political Analyst for WGNO-TV ABC26 and a Columnist for selected publications. For more information, visit his web site at RingsidePolitics.com. E-mail him at [email protected].