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|Landrieu the budget hawk|
Sen. Mary Landrieu turned into a tightwad last week.
At least that's what we were led to believe when Landrieu issued a prepared statement outlining why she opposes a proposal to require 2010 census takers to ask an individual if he or she is a U.S. citizen. The proposal in question was offered in an amendment by Sen. David Vitter, a conservative Republican from Metairie who will stand for re-election next year.
Vitter proposed to attach his amendment to the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill. Every member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Louisiana, including Congressman Charlie Melancon, who has announced he will oppose Vitter in 2010, signed a letter asking Landrieu to support the Vitter amendment. That didn't matter. Landrieu dismissed the congressmen's request including snubbing her fellow Democrat and pal, Melancon.
In reasoning why she opposed Vitter's amendment, Landrieu claimed it represented "political gamesmanship." She also said the amendment was, in so many words, unconstitutional.
It gets better, meaning Landrieu bemoaned that Vitter's proposal would cost the Census Bureau roughly $1 billion to implement. That's why -- I suppose -- we could describe Landrieu as a budget hawk of late.
That, my friends, also raises a question or two.
If Landrieu is concerned with the costs associated with determining whether someone is a U.S. citizen, why did she vote for a so-called economic stimulus package, which will cost the taxpayers roughly $1 trillion over the next 10 years?
If Landrieu is so concerned with spending $1 billion to find out whether a man or woman or child is a citizen of the ole' USA, why is she entertaining supporting a health care reform measure that could cost the people some $1 trillion over the next 10 years?
Those are fair questions, and I'm sure Landrieu could easily offer a well reasoned retort to both of them. Certain to enlighten, I imagine.
Meanwhile, Landrieu's concerns for controlling spending took a hiatus earlier this week when the senator announced that she had secured some $300 million in federal funding for five organizations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The money comes courtesy of the 2009 New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program.
According to a news release issued by Landrieu's office, the "NMTC Program permits taxpayers to receive a credit against federal income taxes for making qualified equity investments in low-income communities through Community Development Entities (CDEs). These CDEs offer the credits to investors in exchange for stock or a capital interest in the CDE. All the qualified equity investment is used to help finance community development projects, stimulate economic growth and create jobs."
Here's what the $300 million will finance:
• $80 million to Stonehenge Community Development, LLC in Baton Rouge to provide loan products to small businesses and non-profits in low-income communities with flexible and non-conventional terms, including reduced interest rates that are at least 50 percent below market.
• $70 million to Advantage Capital Community Development Fund, LLC in New Orleans to provide venture capital and private equity investments, as well as subordinated mezzanine and senior loans, to a variety of entrepreneurial companies located in low-income communities.
• $60 million to East Baton Rouge Community Development Entity in Baton Rouge to be used as part of a targeted neighborhood strategy, focusing on real estate development projects that provide community services, additional goods and services and/or support development of affordable housing and the elimination of blight.
• $60 million to Enhanced Community Development (ECD), LLC in New Orleans to enable ECD to offer more favorable products to investees and borrowers, including not-for-profit organizations. Specifically, ECD will offer senior debt, subordinated debt and equity products with interest rates that are generally 25 percent to 50 percent below market rates.
• $30 million to National Cities Fund, LLC in New Orleans for real estate financing to public/private developments in low-income communities by offering equity and convertible debt, mezzanine debt and construction/mini-perm loans to mixed-use real estate and hospitality projects.
While I suspect the aforementioned organizations could present a sound argument to justify their existence including the money they will receive courtesy of taxpayers, the $300 million appropriation secured by Landrieu gives us a clear idea of where the senator's priorities lie.
Tracking down legal or illegal immigrants "ain't" high on the list.
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