Democrats & Liberals Archives

A New Direction

The Katrina fiasco made obvious to us that our government has been proceeding in the wrong direction for a long time: borrowing and spending on the rich. Because of this narrow government focus, EVERYBODY suffered from the aftermath of this vicious storm. It was a huge disaster, a huge blow to national security. Instead of delaying some of the Republicans’ outrageous giveaways to the rich in order to pay for the recovery, as some Republicans are suggesting, we need to completely reverse course and build up the Treasury so that we can afford to pay for the recovery and for building a solid infrastructure to protect the security of all Americans. We need a new direction.

Estimates of the cost of rebuilding New Orleans and other cities of the Gulf coast ravished by Katrina are in the range of $200-300 Billion. If you throw in the possibility of needing an equivalent amount to shore up the infrastructure, not only in New Orleans, but also all around the country, you're talking about a huge budget fix.

What does Bush say? We can't increase taxes. He does not have the nerve to say that we should have tax cuts, which has been his mantra ever since he's been elected - and even before his election. Maybe this is progress - from "tax cuts" to "no increase in taxes."

I, however, would like to know where the money will come from? We need the money. The money is for national security. The deficit is in the stratosphere. We can't just keep on borrowing or we'll be lost in space.

Here are a few of the wrong ways we followed that brought us to this predicament:

  • MEDICARE BOONDOGGLE - This was supposed to help senior citizens better afford drugs. However, it is nothing but a huge gift of money to drug companies and other medical providers. Originally, the administration estimated the cost of the act at about $400 billion over 10 years. After the bill passed, the cost became $534 billion. Now the cost estimate, according to the Heritage Foundation, is - hold your breath - $720 billion! And the act is almost useless to seniors

  • ENERGY BOONDOGGLE - Congress passed an energy bill filled with many gifts and subsidies and tax breaks, which went mostly to support fossil fuels that produce global warming. Furthermore, as an important aside, according to James Lee Burke, in last Sunday's L.A. Times, talking about the Katrina disaster:

    "Oil Companies have cut 10,000 miles of canals through freshwater marsh, killing the root systems that hold the wetlands in tact."

    And a healthy wetlands could have reduced the severity of the hurricane. We are paying with lives because we have short-changed the environment in order to boost fossil fuel production.

    The energy bill is estimated to cost about $140 billion, with about $24 billion in tax breaks and $29 billion in giveaways

  • TRANSPORTATION BOONDOGGLE - This is a $300 billion Christmas-tree. It includes giveaways with the special name of "earmarks." The Taxpayers for Common Sense adds up a total of about $24 billion in "earmarks" from every state in the union

  • TAX BOONDOGGLE - Otherwise know as tax cuts for the rich. I don't know how much they will cost...
Republican reaction to the big deficit squeeze is pathetic. Some Republicans want to postpone the start of the Medicare drug benefits. Some want to eliminate a few "earmarks." Others say they will wait a while before repealing the estate tax. And others will just as soon borrow a little more.

Republicans have been on the same track so long they have no idea how to change. We need drastic change to fill our Treasury with money to support our urgent need to make our country safer - from both terrorism and from natural disasters. Here are a few of my suggestions:

  • Repeal the entire Medicare boondoggle

  • Revamp the energy bill to favor sustainable energy supplies over fossil fuel energy. Increase fuel efficiency requirements for automobiles

  • Eliminate some transportation projects and a vast majority of the "earmarks."

  • Reinstate taxes that were cut for the rich. Forget about repealing the estate tax

  • Get rid of corporate tax loopholes, especially off-shore tax havens
We must change direction. These are some ways we may turn around our ship-of-state. We can no longer afford Bush's borrow-and-spend-on-the-rich program. We need a new direction to build national security that is truly national.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 21, 2005 6:16 PM