Man Without Qualities

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Louisiana Democratic Party: Swept Away (By an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August) IV

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said Wednesday during a visit to Houston:

"Whether we like it or not, New Orleans is not going to be 500,000 people for a long time," he said. "New Orleans is not going to be as black as it was for a long time, if ever again."
As noted in prior posts, unless displaced New Orleans African-Americans return to the state, the Democratic Party there is all but washed up. So what the HUD head is saying is not good news for them. Of course, technically, he's not referring to Louisiana generally, he's referring to New Orleans. But a very large percentage of the New Orleans diaspora is telling pollsters that they intend to stay where they are now - and that's not Louisiana. Indeed, FEMA is giving eligible Katrina displaced persons rent vouchers nationwide. If those people do not return to New Orleans, they are likely not returning to Louisiana. But the Lousiana Democratic Party is not going down without fighting. In fact, Louisiana Democrats in Congress are attempting to coerce the poor to return:

Despite the severe social and cost disadvantages inherent in a housing relief program based on scores of trailer parks established in remote locations, FEMA appeared determined to implement a strategy that would compel low-income evacuees to accept housing aid only within their home states. In part, this strategy may stem from concerns that many of those receiving assistance may not choose to return to New Orleans or the other damaged communities along the Gulf Coast unless coerced to do so.

As press reports have noted and at least one poll has confirmed, many of the low income evacuees now lodged in other metropolitan areas have become attached to their new communities and desire to start over in them, rather than return to the Gulf Coast. Perhaps reflecting this concern and fearing a permanent loss of constituents and voters, Louisiana’s congressional delegation has reportedly attempted to alter legislation related to federal relief efforts to limit some assistance to only the displaced who remain in their home state or return from an out-of-state shelter. On the issue of providing a tax credit to help the displaced find employment, a spokesman for Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) explained, “My boss sees this as less a matter of individual relief than part of an economic revival package to repopulate the city.” More bluntly, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-LA) said, “If evacuees decide they want to stay in Houston, Texas, why should we pay an employer to give them a job when we need people back in New Orleans?”
So here's the Democratic thinking: A New Orleans refugee has his home and life washed out by a category 4/5 hurricane. He thinks he would do better starting life over somewhere else. The heck with what he wants. The Louisiana Democratic Party needs its constituency back. That's what counts!

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