MOBILE - President Bush's economic team ended a three-state tour of Hurricane Katrina devastation Friday in Mobile. They offered recovery benefits and deflected criticism of the administration's initial response to the catastrophe.
Treasury Secretary John Snow says it's too soon to put a price tag on Katrina's shattering blow to the Gulf Coast. At a press conference at Mobile's convention center, Snow was joined by Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart. They were accompanied by Gov. Bob Riley, U.S.Senator Jeff Sessions and Congressman Jo Bonner, all Republicans. FEMA Director Michael Brown was removed from his onsite command of the Katrina relief efforts.
Snow and Gutierrez both defended the Bush administration when asked about Brown's removal and criticism of FEMA's "too-little-too-late" response to Katrina's deadly winds and flooding in Louisiana, Mississippi and southwest Alabama. Gutierrez said it's not the time to be looking backward. He said the administration is "looking at what we can do for the people today" and tomorrow in rebuilding the storm-wrecked economies." And, he says, "That's our focus. We're just not going to spend time right now looking backwards."