You don’t need to be a high-paid flood consultant to understand the significance of Tuesday’s news that a $516 million share of federal disaster recovery bucks Iowa finally broke loose from the D.C. glacier and is headed for Iowa.
With any luck, it means long-awaited home buyouts and a mountain of other pent-up needs can be addressed soon. We may actually see some real, tangible progress this summer. Sure, there are the nagging questions of what took you so long and exactly when do we get the next shipment, but we’ll leave those for now.
You also didn’t have to be a high-paid political consultant to understand the significance of the announcement in political terms.
All you had to do was watch the rush to the microphones. Once the news broke, Culver was blowing the trumpet on WMT radio and to The Gazette and to anyone who would listen. U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack and U.S. Sen Tom Harkin joined the Big Lug in a flood of cheery press releases.
Somehow, the dynamic Dem trio didn’t mention Republican U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley. I’ll speak for him, in his native Twitter. “Bout tme u get flod $ to Iowa lzy burocats.”
Speaking of bureaucrats, not one but two cabinet secretaries, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Sec. Shaun Donovan and U.S. Ag Sec. Tom Vilsack, will be in town today to trumpet the news and tour the flood zone (Memo to zone-skipper Janet Napolitano). Evidently the Obama administration thinks this is a significant moment as well in a politically significant state.
Probably the biggest winner is Loebsack, who really needed some good news to trumpet. The longer progress was stalled, the more vulnerable he has been to the accusation that we have a congressman who can’t make things happen. Now, at long last, things are happening.
It’s also good for Culver. While his potential Republican rivals explore and skirmish over he direction of their party, the Big Lug gets to drop into Eastern Iowa, likely in his bomber jacket, smile big, and deliver the goods. The power of incumbency, on display.
Close behind are potential CR mayoral candidates Brian Fagan and Monica Vernon, both members of the City Council. They’ve delayed jumping into the race, perhaps hoping that if money came and progress was made, they’d have something to show skeptical voters. This money may smooth their path.
But, in the end, it’s worth noting that Cedar Rapids will probably get $200 million or so from this pot of bucks to help recover from a $6 billion disaster. So let’s not get too giddy. This money isn’t going to solve our problems. It’s really just one step.
But after a year of waiting for some real recovery bucks, one step feels pretty good.