My first bullet point in this post yesterday bears repeating. As I mentioned, the “$29 billion for Katrina relief” in the DOD appropriations bill is misleading, since this is offset by a $23.4 billion rescission from FEMA’s Emergency Response Fund. On a net basis, the Congress would only be appropriating $5.6 billion of new money…not a small sum, but one that certainly doesn’t have the same political impact as $29 billion.
In spite of this fact, which I figured out from a fairly cursory read of budget documents, nearly every major news source reporting on the bill has missed this fact:
The New York Times: “The bill also contains a $29 billion hurricane recovery package…”
Reuters: “The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday approved $29 billion in funds for rebuilding hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast states…”
Associated Press: “After securing 29 billion dollars in aid for hurricane-ravaged states, Gulf Coast lawmakers held their breath as the funds became entangled in a Senate debate over a controversial oil drilling measure…”
The only media outlet that I’ve found to get this right is CQ, which wrote today:
Most of the funds â€” $23.4 billion â€” would be redirected from funds previously appropriated to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through two emergency supplemental appropriations (PL 109-61, PL 109-62) after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi in August. Most of those funds went to FEMAâ€™s disaster relief fund.
Since that money is just being redirected, it is not expected to result in additional spending.
Precisely. Saying that this aid package is worth $29 billion is like saying that somebody’s net worth increases by hundreds of thousands of dollars on the day that they take out a home loan.