Here's a breakout of the $200 billion promised to rebuild areas Hurricane Katrina destroyed. If you count just the population of the four major cities hit in Louisiana and Mississippi, that's about 750,000 people. Given that, each one will be getting about $250,000 in relief money (excluding money from insurance, their state, charities, personal donations, etc.).
This works out to a tax bill of about $700 for every man, woman and child in the United States. Congress should introduce some cost management and efficiencies into this effort and start spending my tax money with more discipline. That is, find the money in other spending programs.
I am disgusted to learn that the administration already has awarded generous no-bid contracts to major campaign donors such as Bechtel [Business, Sept. 9] and Halliburton [news story, Sept. 16].
Piling on to the injustice, this White House is waiving the requirement that workers employed by these companies be paid the region's prevailing wage.
Essentially Congress just wrote a $62.3 billion check to a gaggle of Republican corporate executives.
In a Sept. 17 front-page article, President Bush is quoted as saying of the Katrina relief effort, "You bet it's going to cost money. But I'm confident we can handle it. It's going to mean that we're going to have to cut unnecessary spending."
Given soaring federal deficits, a massively expensive prescription drug package, enormous subsidies for corporations, rising costs in Iraq and a pork-filled transportation bill, citizens paying record-high gasoline prices should be asking: If such spending is "unnecessary," why does the federal government take our money for it in the first place?
One way President Bush could borrow the money to pay for the Gulf Coast reconstruction is to sell hurricane "war" bonds. This would allow Americans to give directly to the reconstruction effort and would put less pressure on the administration and Congress to raise taxes.
The bonds could accrue a small amount of interest, tax-free, over 20 or 30 years. Granted, this means that our children and grandchildren pay the debt. But if we take out bonds and give those bonds to our children and grandchildren, at least they reap some benefit when the payout comes.