I saw the headlines last night from AP on FEMA money spent for divorce lawyer, sex changes and thought oh boy here we go again it’ll be “those no good lazy New Orleans folk that wouldn’t evacuate wasted my tax dollars on tattoos, strippers, Rolexes, Rolls Royces, trips to Mars”…again. And I groaned as I thought I don’t want to go through putting perspective on this again. Thankfully Facing South did. (h/t Suspect Device) So for some Perspective….
While stories of FEMA incompetence are no surprise, one should ask the question: are wrongful payments to Katrina victims really bankrupting the American people? Dig down into the story, and starting at paragraph 11 one finds some actual numbers which don’t support the hype. In reality, only 1,500 cases of potential fraud have been confirmed to date, at a cost of $16.8 million — a far cry from the “$1.4 billion” blasting across headlines today.
Second, the new report is just a projected estimate, based on GAO’s assumption that it is “95 percent confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments” are higher than what is now confirmed. And their projection doesn’t give a firm number, just a range: “between $600 million and $1.4 billion” in wrongful outlays. Always beware of news headlines based around the phrase “as much as …”
The GOP’s outrage over possible mis-spent money on Katrina survivors is especially disengenuous given their nonchalance over hundreds of millions in no-bid Katrina contracts known to have been awarded to Halliburton, Bechtel, Blackwater and other companies. FEMA promised to re-bid the contracts, but as we exposed at Gulf Coast Reconstruction Watch, they never did.
There’s more so I hope you’ll read the rest.
BTW I’m fairly certain that AP headline now is different than it was last night when it was the most emailed story for awhile at Yahoo. I wished I’d captured it. And in the last hour there’s even a bit different story from AP. A bit less salicious now. I wonder if this will be the most emailed? I’m sure all the many good people who used their debit cards for food, clothes and housing won’t mind. Nor will the cronies who got the multi-million dollar contracts for pushing paper around. Look over there…strippers!