Sandy Destroys Infrastructure, And Obama Offers Budget Cuts?

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It seems absolutely freakin' crazy that only one month after a superstorm flattens the infrastructure of the East Coast, the Obama administration and Congress are having Very Serious Talks about cutting $4 trillion in spending. This infrastructure crisis is fueled by the climate change crisis we seem to be ignoring. That's in addition to the zombie banks, the mortgage crisis and the fact that we have far too many unemployed people with no jobs on the horizon and very little help from the people who are supposed to represent them.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie is asking for $36.8 billion for Sandy recovery, and because he did not drop his recovery duties and enthusiastically don a cheerleader costume and wave pom-poms for the Republican candidate, the Republican House will most likely find a way to make him (and Obama) sweat for the money. This is what passes for a democratic republic these days. These people are crazy. But their craziness is encouraged by the "bipartisan" deficit fever from both parties, given extra momentum by the White House and the eternal Quest For The Grand Bargain.

The Obama proposal includes a modest $50 billion infrastructure bank, which isn't even enough to clean up after the storm, let alone address our ongoing problems.

I mean, we have sh*t pouring into the waters off New York and New Jersey. Outright sewage being pumped directly into the waters off New York City, the urban center of the world. What, are we officially a rural Third World nation now? When did the Hudson and Passaic rivers turn into the Ganges?

And while all this is falling apart, President Obama is by most accounts more obsessed with the idea of striking a Grand Bargain as his legacy -- an extraordinarily short-sighted goal that seems more likely to leave a legacy of being the president who let the country fall apart on his watch. It's going to take more than a few hugs for storm victims to fix this, Mr. President. Bad politics and piss-poor policy!

EAST ROCKAWAY, N.Y. — The water flowing out of the Bay Park sewage plant here in Nassau County is a greenish-gray soup of partially treated human waste, a sign of an environmental and public health disaster that officials say will be one of the most enduring and expensive effects of Hurricane Sandy.

In the month since the storm, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw and partly raw sewage from Bay Park and other crippled treatment plants have flowed into waterways in New York and New Jersey, exposing flaws in the region’s wastewater infrastructure that could take several years and billions of dollars to fix. In New York State alone, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has estimated that about $1.1 billion will be needed to repair treatment plants. But officials acknowledge that they will have to do far more.

Motors and electrical equipment must be raised above newly established flood levels, and circuitry must be made waterproof. Dams and levees may have to be built at some treatment plants to keep the rising waters at bay, experts say.

Failure to do so, according to experts, could leave large swaths of the population vulnerable to public health and environmental hazards in future storms.

“You’re looking at significant expenditures of money to make the plants more secure,” said John Cameron, an engineer who specializes in wastewater-treatment facilities and is the chairman of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. “There is no Band-Aid for this,” he added. “This is the new normal.”


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