Saturday, September 17, 2005


One day after pledging to undertake one of history's largest reconstruction efforts, President Bush served notice yesterday that rebuilding the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast will require spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

Amid growing concern among congressional Republicans about the huge cost of the planned reconstruction effort, Bush said the federal government can foot the bill without resorting to a tax increase. "You bet it's going to cost money. But I'm confident we can handle it," Bush said. "It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."

Bush has refused to put a price tag on the reconstruction plan, which he outlined in a prime-time speech Thursday night, although members of Congress and others have predicted that it could cost as much as $200 billion. ...

I must say, it's amusing to watch Republican officials contradict each other as they attempt to support spending cuts and take credit for lean government budgets at the same time:

"There's no shortage of places where the federal government can tighten its belt to pay the cost of the hurricane recovery effort," said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). "Let's face it, after years of uninterrupted growth, the federal government is bloated."

Other Republicans have contradicted that assertion, including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who has said there is no appreciable fat in the federal budget.

So where will these spending cuts come from?

An administration official said the White House and Congress will look for specific spending cuts, starting with about $20 billion in savings identified in the president's 2006 budget. Still more could come from changes to entitlement programs to slow their growth. Those proposals have already been examined by Congress and rejected.

Of course, the biggest entitlement program of all will remain untouched.

No comments: