Thursday, June 19, 2008
More levees at risk from surging Mississippi as Bush tours flood areas
U.S. government ignored warnings, experts say
Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Flooded fields are driving up food prices in the U.S. as surging waters continued down the Mississippi River on Thursday. Officials warn that 30 more levees could be breached or deluged in the coming days. Flooded fields are driving up food prices in the U.S. as surging waters continued down the Mississippi River on Thursday. Officials warn that 30 more levees could be breached or deluged in the coming days.
Floods in the U.S. Midwest moved inexorably down the Mississippi River on Thursday through Illinois and Missouri as fears grew that 30 more earthen levees could be breached or deluged by the surging water.
The river overflowed two levees in Illinois overnight Wednesday, bringing to 12 the number of riverside barriers that have failed to contain the current floods.
Further upstream, U.S. President George W. Bush will travel to Iowa on Thursday, where the floods devastated several cities and towns last week, to see the damage for himself. Bush is to visit Cedar Rapids, where 24,000 people lost their homes when the cresting Cedar River overflowed its banks.
Obama filling sandbags four days ago
Speaking to about 200 people in Wayne, a Philadelphia suburb, Obama made no new proposals but emphasized earlier ones in light of rising gas prices, inflation and job losses. They include a $1,000 tax cut for most working families; a new Social Security tax on incomes above $250,000; a "windfall profits" tax on oil companies; a $4,000 annual college tuition credit for those who commit to national or community service programs; and an end to income taxes for elderly people making less than $50,000 a year.
Obama said he could pay for his programs by eliminating the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthy, winding down the Iraq war and spending more on alternative energy programs that eventually will save money.
He said employers should be required to set up retirement saving plans for workers even if they contribute no money to them. Workers would automatically be enrolled unless they choose to opt out, he said. That way, he said, "most people will save more."
He also vowed to spend $150 billion over 10 years to establish a "green energy sector." It would require greater fuel efficiency in cars and devote more money to solar, wind, and biodiesel energy.
In Quincy, Obama helped volunteers fill sandbags that are being trucked to reinforce levees on both sides of the Mississippi River, less than a mile away. Authorities expected the river at Quincy to reach a near-record level of 32 feet by Wednesday. Severe flooding already has hit Cedar Rapids, Iowa, northwest of Quincy.