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Is America Ready for the Next Disaster?

State and federal coordination is crucial to prepare for disasters, but state leaders say the Bush Administration's latest national plan is "not a plan… and it's not national." Could we see Katrina all over again?  What about homeland security? Also, President Bush on infrastructure repair in Minneapolis and, on Reporter's Notebook, state pride at being first may dictate that next year's presidential voting will start this year.


Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Making News

Bush Opposes Raising Gas Tax for Bridge Repairs ()

At a news conference today, President Bush took a dim view of raising gasoline taxes 5¢ a gallon to pay for infrastructure repair. Bush was also asked about smiling pictures of Iraq's President Nouri al-Maliki during his visit with President Mahmoud Ahmidenijad in Iran. Jim Rutenberg covers the White House for the New York Times.

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Main Topic

Is America Ready for the Next Disaster? ()

At a hearing last week in Washington, the president of the National Association of State Emergency Planners, told Congress that, when it comes to disaster planning, he has "never experienced a more polarized environment between the states and the federal government." Oklahoma's Albert Ashwood said the legacy of Katrina for Washington is to minimize federal exposure while blaming states for not being prepared. As an example, he cited the National Response Plan, now revised as the National Response Framework--a formerly secret document leaked to Congressional Quarterly. State leaders say it's not a plan, and they don't understand it. A high-level veteran of FEMA during the Clinton years says federal agencies no longer know what they're supposed to do either. What are the implications for homeland security?

Guests:
  • Patrick Yoest: Staff reporter for Congressional Quarterly
  • Jane Bullock: former FEMA Chief-of-Staff
  • Tim Manning: Response and Recovery Chair for the National Emergency Management Association
  • Mike Byrne: Senior Vice President at ICF International
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Reporter's Notebook

States Moving Primaries Ever Forward ()

New Hampshire has always been first with presidential primary voting and Iowa has been first for the parties to caucus, but every state wants to play an important role.  Florida would not settle for February 5, the same day as New York and California, so it moved up to January 29. But South Carolina Republicans want to be first in the South, so today they moved their primary to January 19. State laws in New Hampshire and Iowa may trigger a chain reaction, meaning that the first actual balloting will be held this year. We unravel all this with political scientist Dennis Goldford of Drake University and John Mercurio of National Journal's Hotline, a latest-word website for political junkies.

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