As if the delayed response to Katrina itself weren't bad enough, some months ago an acquaintance of mine sent me an e-mail telling me that staunch Republican family members in Mississippi were up in arms at the Bush administration for insisting that they return government loans or provide impossible to obtain documentation.
I don't know if this is the same circumstance or yet another one, but the New York Times reports today that the Small Business Administration just canceled a bunch of Katrina loans without giving any notice:
The agency canceled nearly 8,000 loans without calling the borrowers or mailing them a notice, according to the audit by the agency's inspector general. The homeowners did eventually receive a letter contending that they had voluntarily given up their loans, the report says, even though many told auditors that they actually needed the money. The loans were canceled last year, after the agency had come under fire for being slow to give out rebuilding money, according to the audit. Former agency employees have complained that they were pressured to withdraw the loans to cut the number of applicants whose loans had been approved but not paid out.
Does the Bush administration just cheat reflexively or is cheating something it plans in advance?
My friend whose family lives in Mississippi said he thought Bush's reign was going to cut into the Republican brand loyalty on the Gulf Coast. I suppose we'll see about that. But you have to wonder: If the Katrina response didn't do it, what would?