That’s Mississippi, always looking out for the rest of us.
So goes the cynical commentary after two-term Rep. Steven Palazzo embarrassed Mississippi with his vote last week against federal aid for Hurricane Sandy recovery. As the national media has been quick to point out, Palazzo is a taker but not much of a giver.
Rep. Palazzo, as head of a Biloxi housing agency in 2005, was among the voices calling for no-strings attached federal help for Katrina recovery. Rep. Palazzo got his wish, as billions of dollars in federal recovery made it possible for the battered Mississippi coast to begin its rebuilding.
Another $500 million or so of federal money is expected for rebuilding the Port of Gulfport. The allocation is critical to the economic health of the still-recovering coastal region. Rep. Palazzo may have put that huge outlay of dollars at risk with his vote against helping the recovery of New Jersey and New York from devastation brought by Sandy in the late fall.
We all know what they say about paybacks.
Of course, Rep. Palazzo could begin to repair the image of hypocrisy he has created by insisting that before the feds cut a check for the rebuilding of the Port of Gulfport, Congress must find spending cuts to offset the half-billion dollars the port is expecting.
Why the talk of offsets?
Rep. Palazzo says he would have been OK with the $9 billion in Sandy spending had the allocation included equivalent spending cuts to cover the cost of the relief aid.
Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would frequently point out that even though Katrina marked a disaster of immense tragedy, it brought one positive to the Magnolia State: The thousands of volunteer recovery workers who came to the Mississippi coast from across the nation got to witness the true Mississippi of courage and graciousness.
Now, through Rep. Palazzo’s vote, they are witnessing something entirely different.
We hope the residents of the congressman’s district will take note and apply an offset of their own to Rep. Palazzo’s hypocrisy.
— MBJ Editorial