Bush's Raw Deal

If Roosevelt created the New Deal, then it is clear that Bush, in the wake of Katrina, has come up with the "Raw Deal."

In true religious fashion, Bush will take from Peter to pay Paul. From the start, we all just sat waiting for Bush to figure out how to respond, because it was clear that the likes of Karl Rove and Grover Norquist had to figure out a plan to take full political advantage of the crisis. What Iraq was for 9/11, Katrina is for the other two agendas of this administration: tax cuts and the faith-based initiative.

In his speech at New Orleans' St. Louis Cathedral, Bush used the "bully pulpit" not to bring people together, but to lecture his congregation, like a preacher. In the days after the tragedy he made biblical references; he talked about faith as if the Bible was the point of reference in a country built on laws guaranteed by our constitution. This President once again showed that he and his cronies are unable to think -- ever -- about the collective good of this nation.

In the days that followed, it became clear that this administration was going for broke on all their key issues. The answer to rebuilding is not to raise taxes, or defer enactment of the next round of tax cuts, or implementation of the estate tax changes, but merely to shift spending.

So who pays for this crisis in New Orleans? Simple. As the tax cuts continue, our grandchildren -- and perhaps their children -- will pay for the cleanup, while our national debt escalates.

In addition, by finding the money elsewhere in the budget, every one of us alive today will pay. You can be sure it's not coming out of the defense budget. And where do the low-interest loans and the creation of a special enterprise zone come from? A program already in place that was intended to serve communities throughout the country. As Margaret Helfand, President of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, has commented, "Politics trumps good judgment."

Due to the election cycles, politicians in this country always think short-term in dealing with such crises. They don't have a clue how to create the right vision for Katrina's rebuilding effort. The task ahead is so complex, it's hard to believe that anyone could come up with a logical plan quickly enough. However, when driven by a political agenda, it is certain that Bush's administration will use the tragedy to their advantage. The result -- school vouchers to solve the education problem, faith-based initiatives to rebuild the communities, and the Gulf Coast's environment fouled by relaxing the EPA rules. As for the rest of the country, we will have nowhere else to turn to fix our schools and crumbling infrastructure caused from years of neglect brought on by federal and state tax cuts. Once again it will be local communities -- already plagued by soaring property taxes, sales taxes and, in some cases, parking meters -- that will shoulder the burden.

What happened in New Orleans is, indeed, a tragedy of enormous proportions. There is little question that most of us will rise to the occasion and help our neighbors. But if George Bush and his cronies get their way, we will all suffer in years to come and as they further polarize this nation into the haves and the never-will-haves.


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