Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Study Shows Bush Rejected More Storm Loans than Any Admin in 15 Years

A new report, expected to be released tomorrow, shows that the White House has "rejected hurricane disaster-recovery loans at a higher rate than any other administration in the last 15 years, according to a congressional study by Democrats."

According to the report by Democratic members of the House Small Business Committee, "business and home loan approval rates averaged about 60 percent after Hurricane Andrew devastated much of south Florida in 1992." The trend continued through the rest of Bush Sr.'s administration and on into the Clinton administration. However, after Hurricane Wilma hit south Florida last year, "the approval rate for low-interest, taxpayer-guaranteed loans by the Small Business Administration had dropped to barely 15 %, under the Bush Jr. administration. Democrats said, that overall approval rates for home and business disaster loans since 2004 have averaged about a meager 35 %.

The agency's slowness in responding to the hurricanes and the funding shortfall angered lawmakers on both sides of Capitol Hill. Last month, Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., blasted the SBA for not asking for more disaster loan recovery money until it was almost broke. The two lawmakers have asked the agency to give them a daily accounting of the balance in the loan program.

Last week, Senators John Kerry and Mary Landrieu released a report from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship "assessing the failures of the Bush Administration to adequately respond to the needs of homeowners and small businesses after the 2005 hurricanes damaged the Gulf Coast." The full report from Kerry and Landrieu is available here.


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