If House Majority Leader Time DeLay was joking (as some have argued) last week when he said there's simply no fat left to cut from the federal budget then there's no one more at fault than him for failing to implement the cuts. He's in charge of the House Republicans, and there's no one to blame for soaring federal deficits other than the majority. Sure, the Democrats want to spend more, and on different things, but they're not in power now. Being more frugal than Ted Kennatee isn't anything to brag about, and refusing to face reality in the wake of Katrina is childish.
There's an old adage that no one in Washington can tell the difference between $1 million and $1 billion. Seldom has that Beltway learning disability been more vividly demonstrated than in the weeks since Katrina.
When President Bush announced last Thursday that the feds would take a lead role in the reconstruction of New Orleans, he in effect established a new $200 billion federal line of credit. To put that $200 billion in perspective, we could give every one of the 500,000 families displaced by Katrina a check for $400,000, and they could each build a beach front home virtually anywhere in America.
Instead what are we going to do? Build the levees higher and buy more pumps? And borrow money to do it? Stupid.
Congressman Todd Aiken of Missouri complains that Congress was forced to vote on the $62 billion first installment of funds "even though we knew a lot of the money may go to waste." Mr. Aiken and several dozen other House conservatives proposed an amendment to the $62 billion hurricane relief bill that would offset at least some of the emergency spending by cutting other government programs a meager 2.5 cents out of every dollar that federal agencies spend.
Was the amendment defeated? No. The Republican leadership would not even allow it to come to a vote, on the grounds that there was no waste which could be easily identified and cut.
Dozens of other reasonable proposals to offset Katrina's tidal wave of deficit spending have been similarly repelled. Mike Pence of Indiana suggested a one-year delay on the multitrillion dollar new prescription drug benefit for senior citizens. For 220 years, seniors have managed without this give-away; one more year of waiting would hardly be an act of cruelty. It would save $40 billion, but there were no takers. Then there was the well-publicized idea by Republicans and several Democrats in Congress to cut $25 billion for bike paths, train-station renovations, nature trails, parking garages, auto museums and 6,000 other such pork projects in the just-enacted highway law. It was torpedoed by the powerful committee chairmen who patched this abominable bill together in the first place.
The problem is that Americans have become whiny cry-babies, many of whom can't fend for themselves. We're becoming a nation of 30-year-old adolescents who don't have the nerve to move out of Uncle Sam's basement... but there's no real "Uncle Sam"... that's just what we call the middle class taxpayers (and their children's children's children) who finance the present with nary a thought of the future.