The cost of Katrina has reached at least $200 billion, and one of the biggest questions in Washington is how our government is going to pay for it. It’s not yet known how many lives were lost in New Orleans and Mississippi – not that the loss can be measured in dollars anyway. The money to pay for the damages from Katrina, however, has to come from somewhere in the federal budget.
It’s a good thing that the ‘fiscally responsible’ party is in power now, when hard financial decisions have to be made. Yes, we are lucky to have the same people that so aptly handled the budget surplus of a few years ago still at the helm of our nation. And they have a plan. Its name is ‘Operation Offset’ and it seeks to cut over $600 billion from the federal budget over 10 years.
That may sound like a lot more than is needed, and it’s because House Republicans are jumping on the chance presented by Katrina to cut programs they have long thought were frivolous.
The programs they intend to cut include the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, federal matching funds for presidential candidates and many of NASA’s programs. In addition, some House Republicans want to push back implementation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors because, as Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) says, “Our seniors have gone 220 years without a prescription drug benefit. I think they can wait one more year.”
While Flake’s compassion certainly is heartwarming, a much larger issue is at stake here: limited government versus large government. In the wake of one of our nation’s worst disasters ever, republicans want to limit the government’s ability to help its citizens even more.
The ideals of limited government helped spur the budget cuts that left the levees around New Orleans unable to withstand the force of Katrina. Limited government called for the reduction of Federal Emergency Management Association’s budget and reduced its ability to respond to the disaster. Limited government left 45 million Americans without health care last year and helped create the poverty in New Orleans that contributed to many deaths.
One lesson that we should learn from Katrina is that limited government does not benefit the people of this country. Such a large-scale domestic policy failure obviously points to the fact that something is wrong.
Yet they still want to cut more. Despite a war that has cost us $300 billion already, republicans want to eliminate Big Bird and music classes from public schools.
There’s a better solution.
According to estimates, rolling back Bush’s tax cuts, which benefited the wealthiest Americans the most, would save the government $327 billion. That is more than enough to cover the damage caused by Katrina.
In addition to that, just think of what we could do if billions were not siphoned off for a war that over half of this country does not think we can win.
We can have a domestic policy that works for us. We can have a domestic policy that actually works to eliminate poverty in America and gives people access to health care, something every other first-world nation has.
We can have all of that. We just cannot have it and Bush’s administration at the same time.
Information from – hillnews.com, thinkprogress.org, cnn.com