The president gave me a nice surprise earlier in the week when he expressed a willingness to take responsibility for the federal government's failings after Katrina. A very faint hope began to stir within me when I heard Bush accept responsibility - was it possible that the administration was starting to move back toward the reality-based community? Today, the president brutally dashed that hope. Despite a federal deficit that is already at monumental levels, the president has ruled out raising taxes to pay for the post-Katrina recovery. Instead, he wants to offset these new expenses with budget cuts in other programs.
Some realism would be nice. There are definitely a few places where there is fat left in the federal budget. One notorious example is the $250 million bridge to the Alaskan island with the population of 50. That's $5 million per resident, which does strike me as just slightly excessive. But lets put things into perspective, shall we? The total cost of that bridge works out to be approximately the same as the cost required to keep the war in Iraq running for six hours. If Bush somehow managed to go back and get rid of all of the pet projects Congress earmarked mony for in the transportation bill, he'd still only have recovered slightly more than 10% of the estimated cost of the hurricane cleanup.
We need to get back into the real world. We are running a war, and we have a massive domestic disaster on our hands. Those are things that the nation is going to have to pay for, one way or another. We can pay sticker price now, or we can put off paying for a while, and force our children to pay way, way more than the original costs. Let's be adult about things, for a flipping change. We need - all of us - to make a few sacrifices, for the sake of the future.