Bush already has dispatched his top strategist, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and other aides to assemble ideas from agencies, conservative think tanks, GOP lawmakers and state officials to guide the rebuilding of New Orleans and relocation of flood victims. The idea, aides said, is twofold: provide a quick federal response that comports with Bush's governing philosophy, and prevent Katrina from swamping his second-term ambitions on Social Security, taxes and Middle East democracy-building.Because it isn't a reconstruction problem; it's a political problem.
Even LBJ understood the place of politics in human life better than this.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), a Bush ally, said the recovery effort provides conservatives with an unusual opportunity to test ideas that have been hard to sell on a national scope, including vouchers to cover education for dislocated students and tax incentives for business investment. "There are a whole host of ideas being looked at," Kyl said.Be still, my beating heart.
With some Republicans frustrated that the federal government essentially cut a $62 billion blank check for phase one of the recovery effort, the Bush administration and congressional GOP leaders are working on proposals to encourage business investment in the devastated areas and to test conservative ideas such as portable benefits for evacuees who want to reestablish in new locales, low-tax business zones and waived environmental regulations.Of course, it was lack of proper environmental regulations that led to development of lowlying land, and has led to the sinking of New Orleans as the water table is lowered due to excessive pumping of ground water. Not to mention the whole problem of disappearing wetlands which could put New Orleans on the coast within 30 years. Just Google "New Orleans wetlands;" you'll see this is a known problem, and has been for years. Lack of environmental regulation is exactly what led to a witches brew soaking New Orleans for two weeks now. There's even a Superfund toxic waste site in New Orleans that may have leached out; no one knows yet.
GOP officials involved in the effort said more than $200 billion could be spent on Katrina-related projects, most of it over the next two years. They project that hurricane-related spending will trail off in the final two years of the Bush presidency, allowing him to say he met his stated goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009. "You're a fiscal conservative until you get hit with a natural disaster," said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.).Or decide to go to war in Iraq. How much is the per diem there? By the end of the month, its projected to have cost $258 billion, or $1.4 trillion if it goes on for five years. And so far for New Orleans Congress has allocated $62 billion, and the total may go over $200 billion before Bush leaves office?
Which event, again, is causing us to abandong "fiscally conservative" policies? Is Sen. Lott channeling Tom DeLay?
Republicans are lining up behind plans to use vouchers to help displaced students find new schools, including private ones, and a mix of vouchers and tax breaks to help flood victims pay for health care expenses, from insurance to immunization. A draft Senate GOP plan for post-Katrina policy includes both ideas, according to Republicans who have read the document.One quick question: where does the money come from to fund these vouchers? "Big" government? Or local? Will this be another "unfunded mandate"? Or aren't we worried about those anymore?
And just when you thought it was safe to re-enter the country, Texas once again wants to do to the country what has been done to it. First it was W., now it's Grover. No, not furry, loveable Grover:
Grover Norquist, a Rove ally who runs Americans for Tax Reform, is among those lobbying the White House to suspend wage supports for service workers in the hurricane zone.Apparently because this is no time to be helping people recover by giving them a living wage. But remember: the President's first public order on the recovery of New Orleans, was to decry the looting.
That's "compassionate conservatism."