Monday, September 19, 2005

$200 Billion, But Who’s Counting?

It’s been estimated that it’s going to take $200 billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina. In history books, the term “Reconstruction” may well shift away from its post-Civil War connotation and refer to the Katrina aftermath. Whatever the case, it’s going to have lasting financial effects.

Here’s a quick review of some of the proposed funding sources for the rebuilding efforts:

Don’t buy American.
Though 45% of participants in a recent national poll said they believe we should divert money away from our Iraq budget to help pay for post-hurricane reconstruction, it’s doubtful President Bush will take a cent away from his pet project. Taking money away from rebuilding Iraq and putting it toward rebuilding a devastated part of the United States wouldn’t make any sense – the South doesn’t have nearly as much oil as Iraq, and isn’t part of the “war on 'terra.’”

“We should not raise taxes.”
Raise taxes? Not if the corporate benefactors and other prosperous parties who helped put our president in office and keep him there have anything to say about it. While planned tax cuts may be deferred until a later date (more because they’re now politically untenable than because they’re ill-conceived), tax increases are GOP heresy, and aren’t likely to happen under this administration.

Over-inflate the balloon.
What’s a $314 billion deficit among friends? Since the Katrina bill won’t come due for some time – certainly not during Bush’s term of office – adding to the national debt may be an avenue he’ll consider.

“...cut unnecessary (government) spending.”
With a government that considers lawsuits against doctors who disfigure or kill their patients “frivolous,” I’m afraid to guess what “unnecessary” might mean. Nonetheless, the president has already said he would pursue cutting government spending as a way to fund the reconstruction. Sadly, and ironically, that may result in cuts to programs many needy people subsist on.

Though I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to pass, I wouldn’t be surprised if the president’s proposed “Gulf Opportunity Zone” turns into an opportunity for oil companies and housing developers to make a mint, while the poor remain unable to regain even what little they had prior to Katrina. We mustn’t allow the gulf of opportunity between the rich and the poor to grow wider still. (added 9/22)

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