Republicans like to brag that, as a political party, they are more fiscally responsible than their Democratic counterparts. Well, thanks to President Bushâ€™s four years in office that theory can now take up residence in the urban legend department.
If anything, Bushâ€™s tenure as president proves that the Republican tax cuts (which everyone knows truly benefits the wealthiest one percent), drastically slashing funds in the federal budget for much needed improvements to the countryâ€™s aging infrastructure (a perfect example being the outdated power grid), and trying to get away with launching wars on the cheap, have cost taxpayers and their unborn grandchildren more money than anyone could have ever imagined.
Simply put, since he became president, Bush has not invested the funds to fix the cracks in the countryâ€™s faÃ§ade, despite repeated warnings from experts and intense lobbying efforts by state officials that ignoring the problem will make it worse in the long run. Instead, the president pumped tens of billions of dollars into an unnecessary war that, when it became evident that attaining victory was tougher than the war planners imagined, required tens of billions of dollars more just to continue the fighting.
Only when devastation and catastrophe struck the nation did the federal government cough up the funds, but by then there wasnâ€™t much of choice and as such a $1 billion restoration project before a devastating hurricane touched down in the Gulf Coast has turned into a $200 billion reconstruction effort and has now saddled taxpayers with economic woes that no tax cut can relieve.
You donâ€™t have to look too far than New Orleans, a city wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, as evidence of the Bush administrationâ€™s and Congressâ€™ fiscal irresponsibility. Itâ€™s a direct result of
Flooding is the most destructive and costly natural disaster in the
Sadly, no one was becoming any smarter. Instead of funding flood control projects, the Bush administration cut the Army Corps of Engineers budget, forcing the city of
â€œIt’s not every day that
Al Naomi, a senior project manager for the corps told the Picayune that federal funding has all but dried up threatening to put hurricane protection plans that were already underway on hold indefinitely.
Naomi said the corps has been strained for money, as the federal government’s priorities have shifted to other concerns, such as homeland security, which prior to Hurricane Katrina meant protection from terrorist threats, and the war in
Before Bush delivered his better-late-than-never speech to the nation earlier this month
Before Bush delivered his better-late-than-never speech to the nation earlier this monthin front of Andrew Jacksonâ€™s statue in New Orleans, he personally shot down repeated requests for federal assistance made by Louisiana officials over the past four years to help repair New Orleansâ€™ eroding coastline, the most recent of which was turned down by the president in June. Even prior hurricanes, such as Ivan, which just missed New Orleans last September still wreaked havoc on the city similar to that of Katrina, forcing local officials to evacuate the city and calling on the federal government for help, was not enough to sway President Bush to focus on domestic threats instead of pouring all of his energy into terrorism and the war in Iraq.
So, to hear the president in a televised speech promise to spend whatever it takes to rebuild one of the nationâ€™s great cities is not a sign of progress, rather itâ€™s a symbol of the total breakdown of his administration and an attempt to conceal what could arguably have been a man-made disaster because of Bushâ€™s policies.
The final blow, however, came in June.
But the White House adamantly refused to part ways with the $5 billion it gets from drilling in the Gulf Coast, its second biggest source of revenue (after income the Internal Revenue Service brings in) choosing to use most of those funds to finance the Iraq war.
To ensure that the message came across crystal clear, Bush personally ordered White House aides to take the unusual step of sending a letter to House and Senate negotiators advising them to kill the revenue-sharing plan in the final version of the energy bill.
The White Houseâ€™s Office of Management and Budget released a policy statement paper in June that said the Bush administration opposes â€œthe significant new funding authorizations and diversionâ€ of Outer Continental Shelf revenue included in a national energy bill being discussed in Congress.
“Currently the federal government does share royalties with coastal states — more than $3 trillion to date, in fact. Changing this amount only increases the budget deficit and diminishes the benefit the rest of the nation receives from these national resources,” Scott Milburn, press secretary for the White Houseâ€™s Office of Management and Budget, told The Associated Press in June.
â€œDisheartening,â€ â€œfrustrating,â€ â€œupsettingâ€ and â€œjust another nail in my coffinâ€ is how
Ironically the erosion to the stateâ€™s coastlineâ€”which became considerably worse over the past five yearsâ€”is due, in part, to oil and gas drilling in the Gulf, much of which takes place right in
â€œWhile inland states enjoy 50 percent of the tax revenue from drilling on their federal lands, Louisiana gets back a mere $35 million of the $5 billion it contributes to the federal treasury each year from offshore drilling, or less than one percent,â€ the Courier said.
In a written statement, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., condemned the White House position. Landrieu said the Bush administration simply canâ€™t comprehend why the state of
â€œThe presidentâ€™s statement indicates a failure to appreciate the burdens borne by the people of
It wasnâ€™t long after the White House issued its statement on the revenue sharing concept that
Clifford Smith, a
“Weâ€™re not going to get the kind of recognition and concern we deserve until we have a disaster,” he said.
Jason Leopold is the author of the explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold’s website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.