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Blanco Road Home trick may blow up to Jindal's favor

As revelations of the events in establishing Democrat Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s Road Home Program continue to surface, the strategy employed by Blanco regarding it has become clear: make huge promises her administration knew could not be fulfilled, then blame somebody else for the problems.

For months, Blanco has blamed the program’s contractor, ICF International, for implementation problems; while how much is that company’s fault or Blanco’s is in dispute, the fact is Blanco’s people were the ones who hired the firm and thus she and they bear the ultimate responsibility for shortcomings. However, this week a new tactic was launched, using the old excuse of complaining problems are those of the federal government as well as new ones which, when examined thoroughly, tell us much about the policy-making problems inherent to the liberalism of the Blanco Administration.

This concerns the underfunded nature of the program. That the program potentially could fall as many as $3 billion short was known months ago by Blanco, but only until Republican Rep. Bobby Jindal publicized the matter did the Blanco Administration grudgingly acknowledge the situation. It now claims that the $7.6 billion it asked for will be insufficient because of a combination of homeowner stupidity, insurance company greed, higher construction costs, and a federal government vendetta against Louisiana.

First, the state blames homeowners because they didn’t have enough insurance, or even any. Second, it blames insurance companies because it says they tried to avoid payouts as much as possible. Such views confirm that populist liberals such Blanco either misunderstand human nature or were going to use the liberal/populist ethos in the state to their own political advantage by laying blame on other forces and getting potential voters to buy it.

Liberals cannot seem to get it through their heads that when people are led to expect government is to run their lives rather than individuals taking responsibilities for their own lives, that demand for whatever it is that government subsidizes will increase beyond what planners predict. Blanco and her crew act shocked that, as soon as people heard from her that government was going to backstop some, even all, of their losses, that people would become less vigilant in pursuing their claims with insurance companies (who cannot be blamed for not trying to push money on people or to give it out without absolute proof of loss), and that more people than expected would try to squeeze as much as they could out of government.

Third (which also partially addresses the second as some argue private insurers also were negligent on this issue), the Blanco Administration hints that the federal government intended to fund claims for wind as well as water claims. But documents from both the federal and state governments showed the federal government fairly unambiguously said it did not intend the original money to be used to pay for uninsured wind damage, that the state had itself intended not to cover it when the details of the program were being formulated, and only unilaterally later decided the Road Home would cover such damage.

This and statements you hear coming from the state about how it’s not going to “abandon” some storm victims reveals the mindset of Blanco and her appointees on the issue. Recognize the train of events: the state and federal government negotiated the $7.6 billion with the understanding that wind damage was not included, then the state turned around and decided it would pay out for that far enough along in the process where the federal government could not stop it legally, and now has come crying, even using verbal blackmail, to try to get the federal to cough up additional billions.

While it’s possible that the Blanco Administration is just clueless, more likely was this was a part of the plot to get her reelected. They knew the federal government wouldn’t give the additional money, so they tried to trick it and then use it as a campaign issue, the “Saintly Blanco vs. Cruel, Partisan Federal Government” ploy she had to run with when her incompetence became so apparent. As a theme, it wasn’t very convincing obviously as Blanco fund herself pushed out of a chance to continue her reign of error.

But that won’t stop them from trying to execute the plan to continue to try to save face. Having had to put up with such shenanigans for approaching two years now, the federal government has indicated its lack of sympathy for the Blanco’s self-created plight for the state.

Except that it is an election year. Expect sometime this summer for Jindal to announce he has worked out a deal with the federal government to provide some relief, redounding to his political credit as he continues cruising to victory to succeed Blanco. Her likely plan blowing up in her face will prove the final, greatest indignity to Blanco on this issue.

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