Saturday, September 17, 2005

Be Careful What You Grandstand For

As always, the Law of Unintended Consequences must be considered prior to any political grandstanding.

The opponents of President Bush, in their eagerness to portray him as aloof and uncaring in New Orleans, have gotten an over-the-top response. The result will be an enormous addition to the deficit spending they had also been correctly attacking the President for. Per today's Indy Star editorial:
President Bush in his nationally televised speech Thursday night clearly was determined to prove he has empathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Perhaps too determined.

It's unusual that any newspaper suggests one interest group should do without in favor of a priority item. It's refreshing when it does.
But fiscal reality can't be ignored, and the federal deficit will soar beyond all reason without further thought about how to pay for the president's and the nation's generosity.

One cache of gold worth mining: The $286 billion highway bill that Congress approved in July. The president and Congress should insist on revisiting the legislation, packed with more than 6,300 pork-barrel projects worth $23 billion. Congress could, for example, save more than $430 million simply by canceling work on two bridges in Alaska that will serve few people and little purpose.

Back home in Indiana, Congress should tell the Indianapolis Children's Museum to no longer count on $12.5 million stuffed into the highway bill for building new loading docks and a visitors entrance. A tough loss for the museum? Sure. But it never made sense for the federal government to give a local museum money in the first place. That, and other federal handouts around the nation, can in no way be justified now in light of the massive and expensive emergency on the Gulf Coast.

How great to read the words "fiscal reality can't be ignored" in a major American newspaper! Of course, it would have been vastly better had the items identified here not been in any spending package from the beginning. Alas, this is the Federal government, as brought to you by a Republican majority in both houses, where pork barrel-r-us, Tom DeLay's recent absurdities notwithstanding.

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