The Big Question: Does Obama deserve much criticism for his Katrina recovery efforts?

Some of the nation's top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight on the biggest question burning up the blogosphere and cable news airwaves on Friday, Oct. 16, 2009.

The Big Question today is:

Does President Obama deserve all the criticism he is getting for his Katrina recovery efforts?

Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) said:

My hope is that the President will work closely with Louisiana's Congressman Cao as New Orleans continues to rebuild this historic city. We should also not forget the vast devastation that Mississippi experienced as families' memories and livelihoods were washed completely away by Katrina.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said:

President Obama missed an opportunity to prove his commitment to New Orleans' recovery and gain a full understanding of the challenges we are facing. There is a big difference between campaigning here as a political candidate and spending quality time here as the President. Yesterday's visit was more like a partisan campaign rally than a hurricane recovery visit. After the recent decision to move forward with an inferior level of interior drainage repairs, this Administration has shown that they don't fully grasp the changes that need to be made in the rebuilding of our region. The people of New Orleans deserve more than a 'drive-through daiquiri' summit with the President.

If the President is sincere in his commitment to our recovery, he will join our delegation in supporting Category 5 hurricane protection, including the strengthening of our levees, improving our interior drainage system, and restoring our eroding coastline. I invited the President to visit areas like the 17th Street Canal where the federal levees breached, and St. Tammany Parish where they still don't have adequate protection from storm surge.

There is no substitute for spending quality time on the ground to see first-hand the challenges we are still facing, and it was disappointing that the President passed up that opportunity to gain that deeper understanding.

Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said:

The more time the president spends on the ground, the better he'll understand the challenges of rebuilding, but we appreciate that he made this trip. What matters most is that he delivers on his many campaign promises to put effective policies in place for rebuilding South Louisiana.

John F. McManus, president of the The John Birch Society, said:

Too many Americans feel that it is the duty of federal government to take care of their needs, and to fix what gets broken by floods, storms, and other natural disasters. This is not the job of the federal government whether run by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, or George Washington. Years ago, floods destroyed homes along the Mississippi River and the federal government paid the people to rebuild, an absurd use of taxpayers' money just waiting for the next flood. The same goes for New Orleans. Building a portion of a city below sea level is ridiculous. Making taxpayers pay for the flood that developed is a small, but real, slice of tyranny. Don't blame Obama for this one; blame the perversion of the American system that allows such outrages in the first place.

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