Call for Corruption Czar to Oversee Reconstruction Because America Can Do Better
Washington, D.C. — The following is a statement by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid:
“As I’ve said before, the biggest abuse of power is having the ability to help the American people, but choosing not to instead. Now, even in the wake of Katrina, that’s the choice Republicans continue to make.”
“No help for victims. No help on gas prices. And no end in sight to a string of ethical scandals.
“Fortunately, the American people don’t have to live with that choice. America can do better, and together we will.
“The American people deserve more than “business as usual” in Washington. It’s time to reform the way things are done, and we can start with the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.
“Billions of dollars will be spent on that project. Already we’re hearing stories of millions for cruise ships and mismanagement of funds.
“America can do better. Democrats in the House and Senate have called for a corruption czar to oversee the effort, and today I ask the President and the Republicans to join us in supporting this position.
“We need someone to make sure the money goes to rebuilding businesses, homes and lives, not to lining the pockets of well-connected contractors. A czar will know where every penny goes, and watch for anyone who takes shortcuts or overcharges.
“We support a czar because we’re committed to reforming the culture of cronyism and corruption President Bush and Republicans have created in Washington. They think since they have all the power, they only have to use it to help their friends….by cutting taxes for special interests…by giving more breaks to Big Oil…and by keeping open the revolving door between government jobs, their top supporters and industry lobbyists.
“Democrats believe in something very different. We believe that together America can do better, and that in the wake of Katrina and the rash of Republican scandals, it’s time to unite and move forward in a new direction.
“Democrats want to return to a time when “what you know,” not “who you know,” qualified you to run a government agency, and we have legislation to slow the revolving-door that’s been the source of so much Republican abuse.
“Unlike Republicans, Democrats see the solution to rising gas prices as energy independence by 2020, not more tax breaks for the energy industry.
“And Democrats know that now – in the wake of the worst natural disaster in our history – it is not time to cut Medicaid and cut education so we can spend more on tax breaks for special interests and multi-millionaires.
“We can do better.
“Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that Katrina struck on the 29th day of August. Now, it’s the 29th day of September and this Republican-controlled Congress has yet to send a comprehensive relief package to the president’s desk.
“Last Spring, Republicans in the House and Senate moved mountains in the middle-of-the-night to intervene in one Florida family’s tragedy. But today, when thousands of displaced families are sleeping on cots, Republicans are sitting on their hands.
“A stronger America begins at home. Weeks ago, Democrats introduced the “Katrina Relief Plan” which would give families housing, health care, education and financial relief. Even though Republicans refuse to act, we won’t stop fighting to get these families the urgent relief they need.
“Together, America can do better.”