Jindal Says Obama’s Storm Relief Falls Short of State Needs

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who has criticized Barack Obama for excessive federal spending, said the president isn’t providing enough funding to cover the costs of Hurricane Isaac.

Jindal, a 41-year-old Republican, said in a Baton Rouge news briefing today that he sent a letter of complaint to the Democratic president.

“You can’t wait, you have to push the federal bureaucracy,” he said.

Jindal wrote yesterday evening that Isaac requires “extraordinary emergency protective measures” and “full federal assistance for the state.” The president’s emergency declaration doesn’t provide for reimbursement of state expenses, only for “direct federal assistance,” Jindal wrote.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the goal of the initial declaration was to get federal aid out immediately. “We’ll continue to work with state officials to provide any unmet needs,” he told reporters today. “There will be time to explore if additional declarations are necessary.”

Readiness Costs

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate also addressed Jindal’s complaint during a conference call with reporters. He said the money Jindal was asking for would come through “a reimbursement program which will come after the fact. We felt it was more important to get the first part out, the direct federal assistance.”

Louisiana has spent about $8 million, issued evacuation orders for nine areas and declared emergencies in 34 parishes. School has been canceled and the state has activated more than 4,000 members of the Louisiana National Guard, prepared 300 buses and 5,000 shelters, Jindal said.

The governor has criticized federal spending under Obama. He gave the Republican response to Obama’s first State of the Union speech in February 2009, attacking stimulus measures he said were larded with waste. He was endorsed as a vice-presidential pick for Romney in May by Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes taxes and federal government spending.

Splitting Costs

“When reality catches up with rhetoric, those extreme right-wing anti-government positions not only don’t work, but advocates of those positions will flip-flop,” Craig Varoga, a Democratic political consultant in Washington and former New Orleans resident, said in a telephone interview today.

The president’s order authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate all relief efforts and provide assistance in 15 parishes. The federal government will pay for 75 percent of the cost of the emergency measures, according to the order, which Obama signed yesterday.

When Hurricane Gustav struck in 2008, Republican President George Bush also authorized the same level of aid as Obama did for Louisiana.

“We make no apologies for fighting for the people of Louisiana, regardless of who is president,” Kyle Plotkin, a Jindal spokesman, said in an e-mail today. “We’ve learned from past experience that you have to push the federal bureaucracy.”

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