“My kids would make a better president than him!,” writes a parent in Salon. “Like so many other people’s children, mine gave up their savings to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. But Bush says we can rebuild the Gulf without making any sacrifices.”

We bash the MSM for failing to report key issues, but the media’s doing a decent job covering the shocking reports of no-bid contracts, spend-spend-spend proposals, and lack of accounting — from “Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans” to “Katrina relief contracts come under investigation” (“Billions of dollars of reconstruction contracts awarded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are being investigated amid concerns of cronyism and abuse.”)

Now along comes the Wall Street Journal (sub. only) editorial board with its 150-mph blast, “Return to Spender“:

You know spending discipline has collapsed on Capitol Hill when one of the lone voices for fiscal restraint is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. As Republicans rush to deluge the Gulf Coast with tens of billions of tax dollars to display their “compassion,” Ms. Pelosi has cleverly seized the mantle of fiscal responsibility.

Last Wednesday Ms. Pelosi offered to return to the federal government $70 million for highway bill projects targeted for her district in San Francisco — “to help the victims of Katrina.” But when House Republican leaders were asked if they would give up their slabs of highway pork, there was not a single taker. Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas went so far as to declare that, “The bill creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. It’s an economic engine.” By that logic we could end joblessness in America by building even more bike paths and bridges to nowhere.

With a lifetime Citizens Against Government Waste rating of “Hostile to the Taxpayer,” [How amusing!] Ms. Pelosi hardly qualifies as a fiscal conservative. But at least she understands what the out-of-touch Beltway Republicans don’t: The latest polling shows that voter support for the GOP is slipping, especially among normally loyal Republicans, and their spending spree is one big reason. This is an important moment for Republican governance that threatens their control of Congress.

Of course, as they go on to explain, the WSJ editors worry most about the repeal of tax cuts. But they’re also distressed about Bush’s failure to lead. Hasn’t it occurred yet to the WSJ editors that nobody’s at home in the White House? BELOW, the editors’ suggestions for Bush, along with a WaPo $250 billion shocker-of-a-story and a funny segment from CNN’s Jack Cafferty:


Congress could do more to control itself, but it’s obvious the GOP leadership won’t do this without prodding. That means Mr. Bush is going to have to lead. For five years the White House has let Congress spend at will, declining to veto even a single bill, though many have arrived at his desk with billions of dollars more than he requested. This year’s $286 billion highway bill was $30 billion over his alleged 2004 line in the sand.

Remarkably, Mr. Bush has also never even tried to use another budget weapon in his arsenal: the power to rescind funds authorized by Congress. The House Rules Committee defines this “rescission” power as “a law that repeals previously enacted budget authority in whole or in part. Under the Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the President can impound such funds by sending a message to Congress requesting one or more rescissions and the reasons for doing so.”

[T]he President sends Congress a list of projects that he does not wish to spend money on, either for policy reasons or because conditions have changed (a hurricane). Congress then votes up or down on whether to accept this package of cuts. Past Presidents, notably Ronald Reagan, have saved billions of dollars …

Mr. Bush could get Congress’s attention by immediately sending up two emergency rescission packages. The first would include $6 billion of savings from [transportation pork] — the parking garages, bike paths and nature trails that Ms. Pelosi says she’s willing to give up. Next, Mr. Bush could request an across-the-board hurricane relief rescission of 2% of federal agency spending, …

Those WSJ editors should talk to that parent, writing for Salon, who grasps that Bush is clueless, or talk to the kids, who know about personal sacrifice.

One of the more astonishing articles today was the Washington Post‘s “Louisiana Goes After Federal Billions.”

Louisiana’s congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about 10 times the annual Corps budget for the entire nation, or 16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.

Louisiana Sens. David Vitter (R) and Mary Landrieu (D) tucked the request into their $250 billion Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act, the state’s opening salvo in the scramble for federal dollars. …

Jack Cafferty on CNN’s Situation Room (transcript) had some fun with the WaPo piece:

CAFFERTY: Louisiana’s two senators are asking the federal government for $250 billion to rebuild Louisiana in the wake of Katrina. According to “The Washington Post,” this $250 billion bill would cost more in inflation adjusted dollars than the whole Louisiana purchase, one-third of the 48 adjacent states did when Thomas Jefferson bought it … The Louisiana purchase actually encompassed areas all the way from North Dakota to the Gulf Coast … a third of the center section of the country. Critics say that parts of the bill make the Louisiana delegation look greedy. …

[S]hould it cost more to rebuild Louisiana than it did to buy it? {E]-mail your thoughts …

Cafferty’s listeners let him know:

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty has been going through your e-mail on this question of the hour. He’s joining us now from New York. Hi, Jack.

CAFFERTY: How are you doing, Wolf. [T]he question this hour is — should it cost more to rebuild Louisiana than it did to buy it? Some of you think it’s a stupid question. Perhaps it is, but it’s all I got, and this is the end of the show anyway, …

Jack in Lafayette, Louisiana: “Would it cost you more to rebuild your house than it did to buy the lot it was built on? How much do you think the Louisiana purchase, with all its improvements and infrastructure, is worth today?”

Todd in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: “Leave it to Louisiana politicians to raid the cookie jar whenever and wherever they can. Prepare to see an all-out stampede for available federal dollars, all in the name of rebuilding after Katrina. Louisiana is a breeding ground of scams, crooked politicians and corruption, in unbelievable proportions. That’s just the way it is. Always has been, always will be.”

Dave in Rochester: “Let’s return Louisiana back to France for a full refund, and then do something useful with the money, such as putting it towards education.”

Alan in Burlington, Kansas writes: “It will cost more, but we can’t choose which cities to rebuild. If it was New York or Los Angeles or Miami, we wouldn’t hesitate. We can’t just sell it back to the French. Maybe we can sell Texas back to Mexico, and then we would have enough to rebuild Louisiana.”

And Kevin in Naples writes: “The whole island of Manhattan cost a handful of beads. What is your point? Should we trash the whole island because the Twin Towers cost more to rebuild than a handful of shiny beads?”

I don’t know, Kevin.

I don’t know either, Kevin. But I am beginning to wonder if it’s insane to pour $250 billion into a state that, most scientists and writers say, will end up irretrievably under water in the near future.

And I’m wondering if it’s worth it to toss such huge sums at an iffy proposition if it means that we have to cut back on countless other valuable federal programs.

We know that that’s exactly what the right (from Congress’s GOP to the WSJ editors) wants: Any excuse, any at all, to further decimate the federal government, but without any sacrifice from its moneyed class or its monstrous military superstructure.

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