Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cao: New Orleans Shafted!

Given how little we know about precisely how the stimulus will work around the nation, to start making job projections for individual Congressional districts seems silly, more so when one realizes that so much of that the allocation of much of each state's haul is still up for negotiation between governors and legislatures.

So I wouldn't get too indignant about the details of this article in today's Times-Picayune. The problems in New Orleans are so vast that a more direct infusion of federal attention is to be expected, and it is highly unlikely that more stimulus money would have been procured at the cost of special attention later.

Nonetheless, Joe Cao would have you believe that the real reason he voted against the stimulus package was that it didn't include enough jobs for the 2nd Congressional, which does indeed rank last on the Obama administration's estimate of jobs created or saved per district. On Monday, he unveiled this line in an op-ed penned to the Times-Picayune. Yesterday, he was flogging this talking point at a joint event held with Steve Scalise at the Port of New Orleans.

However, we know very well that the jobs per district number is misleading. More useful would be a calculation of jobs per capita or per 100,000 residents. The 2nd Congressional district lost a huge percentage of its population as a result of, well, you know.

But that's not really the important point.

The questions I have are:

Where the hell was Joseph Cao when the stimulus bill was being written?

Was he on the phone daily between the Regional Planning Commission, the Regional Transit Authority, the City of New Orleans, the Recovery School District, the State Department of Transportation and Development, and the Port of New Orleans?

Was he talking to traditional friends of New Orleans in Congress like Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Judicial Committee Charmian John Conyers, Committee on Education and Labor Chair George Miller, or Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Barbara Lee?

Was he working with other fiscally conservative moderates who were working on maximizing returns for Louisiana and New Orleans like Rep. Charlie Melancon or Senator Mary Landrieu?

Did he try to leverage his highly coveted vote as a Republicam moderate to try to win extra spending on projects important to his district? The Democrats were bending over backward to try to get some GOP support. Did Joseph Cao try to use that?

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Cao went the other way. He didn't put the pressure on Democrats to tailor the bill to help his residents.

He got pressured by conservative wing nut Republicans. He's alternatively had Newt Gingrich, Steve Scalise, Eric Cantor, and others whispering into his ears while stepping on his feet.

Take this revelation from the Politico:

He told reporters an hour or two before the vote that he was strongly considering a vote in favor of the stimulus measure after rejecting an earlier version – “At this point, I’m leaning ‘yes,’ but I’m not absolutely certain.” He reasoned that his heavily Democratic district could use the money with many of his constituents still struggling to rebound from Hurricane Katrina.

Beforehand, Cao acknowledged that Republican leaders had put “pressure” on him to oppose the package, and the party’s chief deputy whip, California Rep. Kevin O. McCarthy, stood near Cao during the entire vote.

“They encouraged me to vote ‘no,’ but they understand the needs of my district,” Cao said.

Does Joseph Cao understand the needs of this district?

Something tells me that the deregulation/kill government/fundamentals are strong/let'em drown crowd doesn't understand the needs of this district AT ALL. Nobody representing the leadership of the Republican Party has any credibility to talk about the needs of New Orleans.

So Joe Cao better decide quickly who precisely he's representing.


Papa Bear said...

Cao' actions can be attributed to one reason: He just doesn't get it.

New Orleans will lose out on a ton of projects because Cao wont leverage his status to his advantage. Imagine if Cao would be the thorn in the side of Republicans (much like Collins & Snowe), willing to vote with Democrats at a moment's notice.

While he may never turn Democrat, he could have certainly garnered the favor of local residents and encouraged the DCCC to lay off on backing the primary winner.

I'm a Democrat thru and thru, but for Cao to not understand that shows how naive he truly is.

This occurrence shows me that my vote on December 6th was validated.

Jeffrey said...

Good stuff, E--the honeymoon with Cao certainly was short-lived.

I am hopeful, though, about what you are saying with respect to more direct help that the Obama administration will give to cities with plights similar to ours (but especially the unique problems of south Louisiana) in the coming months. It seems to me that we can hold the minimal impact of this stimulus on District 2 up as an example of the fact that this administration does need to make sure that we aren't just bailing out the profligacy and unsustainability of the CA-FL-AZ mode of development this country has been in for a generation, and that we are actually addressing the long-term, structural challenges facing diverse urban communities.

I'd be really interested in seeing the figures for other congressional districts in Detroit, South Chicago, Baltimore, and West Philly.

Tim said...

They got him on a short leash, plain and simple.

So what are going to do in two years? Run back to the Democrats who abuse us only slightly less than the Republicans? Or will we finally break the bonds of the wicked "two-party system" and elect someone of the people?