Congress isn’t known for its long attention span, and that was evident recently when lawmakers approved tax breaks that left Louisiana flood victims out in the cold.
A bill signed into law last week by President Donald Trump gives special tax breaks to victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Among other things, the legislation makes it easier for those touched by the hurricanes to write off property losses and tap into their retirement funds without penalties. Some tax credits for storm-damaged businesses are in the mix, too.
It’s the same kind of financial relief that victims of last year’s massive flooding in Louisiana have been requesting for months, to no avail.
WASHINGTON — Residents across the U.S. Gulf Coast and Caribbean territories hit by Hurricane…
That short shrift for Louisiana on Capitol Hill is discouraging, though not surprising. The devastating damage from last year’s flood wasn’t the result of a named storm, so the tragedy is easier for those beyond Louisiana to overlook.
And while the suffering of Louisiana’s flood victims continues, the national media caravan has moved on. The arrival of subsequent storms this year, coupled with a mass shooting in Las Vegas, have directed America’s focus elsewhere. Here at home, the agony of loss in Louisiana looms large more than a year after high water ravaged thousands of homes and businesses. But in the national mind, the Great Flood of 2016 happened an eternity ago. Other realities factor into Louisiana’s predicament. Harvey’s roll through Texas and Irma’s assault on Florida affected two states with huge political clout, making federal help an easier sell. Louisiana seems left behind as an afterthought, although residents of southwest Louisiana who were impacted by Harvey stand to gain from the tax breaks granted for that storm.
Complicating relief efforts for Louisiana is the relative lack of seniority among the state’s congressional delegation. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s leadership position is a big advantage, but he was sidelined for months after being wounded by a gunman during a mass shooting last summer.
A key tax deduction that can quickly put cash in the hands of victims of floods, hurricanes …
There’s still a chance that tax relief for Louisiana flood victims could be approved as part of other legislation this year. One sticking point is that lawmakers from states affected by Superstorm Sandy want tax relief for that storm’s victims, too. That seems a reasonable concession to advance much-needed assistance for Louisiana residents.
We remember presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to Louisiana flood victims last year, when he was accompanied by running mate Mike Pence. Trump promised help, and now that he’s president, we call on him to follow through. The first step should be vigorous White House support for tax relief for flood-ravaged Louisiana homeowners and businesses.
The rest of the country might have forgotten what happened in Louisiana last year, but we haven’t. Fairness should compel the president and lawmakers to act.