by jordan BLUM
Advocate Washington bureau
October 16, 2012
West Baton Rouge Parish was the most recent part of the state opened up for individual federal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.
As a result, a Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Recovery Center is opening Monday in Port Allen in cooperation with state assistance.
FEMA announced the new center will be open Monday through Thursday at the West Baton Rouge Parish Community Center to assist homeowners, renters and business owners who sustained uninsured or underinsured damage to their homes or personal property as a result of Isaac.
FEMA, state and U.S. Small Business Administration officials are to answer questions and provide information on assistance to hurricane victims.
The center is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at the community center, 749 N. Jefferson Ave., Port Allen.
Hurricane victims may register online at http://www.disaster assistance.gov.
The Small Business Administration offers federal low-interest disaster loans to residents and businesses.
Vitter slams Wall Street reforms
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal last week arguing the Wall Street reforms enacted by Congress under President Barack Obama have proven ineffective.
Vitter specifically takes aim at the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was meant to better regulate the economic failures that caused the so-called Great Recession.
“The argument for this legislation was that government regulators needed more authority and discretion to deal with the largest financial firms,” Vitter wrote. “Instead Dodd-Frank has had two main effects. It has solidified the crony-capitalism practice of the government picking winners and losers, and it has unleashed an avalanche of confusing, sometimes conflicting regulations on everyone, including community and regional banks — regulations that add plenty of costs but little protection.”
Vitter, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, has recently pushed with Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to focus more on requiring the so-called megabanks to maintain more capital reserves so they are no longer “too big to fail.” Critics have said that approach leaves less money for loans and helping customers.
“In this discussion, Dodd-Frank supporters often point to the authority they gave regulators to increase these institutions’ capital standards and make them safer,” Vitter wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “However, those regulators, led by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, have refused to use that authority so far. I’m concerned that instead they’re relying on the next group of “smartest guys in the room” to get it right in the next financial crisis.
“Recent events don’t bode well for that approach,” Vitter added. “Just look at the surprise multibillion-dollar losses at J.P. Morgan Chase earlier this year. Neither the regulators nor CEO Jamie Dimon — the single smartest guy in the room (just ask him) — caught those problems.”
Boustany criticizes South Korea
Early last week, Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, criticized South Korea for halting its bids on imports of rice from the U.S. after a Consumer Reports study showed elevated levels of arsenic in American-grown rice.
“Although the word ‘arsenic’ has alarming connotations, especially when spoken in reference to our food supply, it is important for consumers to know this is a naturally occurring substance in the water, soil and air and has always been present in the international food supply in some small way,” Boustany said in a statement on Tuesday.
He also wrote a letter to that effect to South Korea Ambassador Young-jin Choi.
Then, by Friday, Boustany was praising the decision of South Korea to lift the temporary ban on American rice.
“Korea is an important strategic and economic ally of the United States, and I am pleased to see this close relationship continue,” Boustany stated.
He added, “South Louisiana rice is some of the safest, most nutritious food in the entire world.”
Jordan Blum is chief of The Advocate Washington bureau. His email address is jblum@theadvocate.