At some point he's going to boast about the huge sum he will appropriate for the reconstruction of New Orleans. And it will be huge. The Bushies expect this to get them off the hook for botching the pre- and post-storm prep and rescue efforts, and that's all it is—guilt money. Well, that's not exactly true, it's also a monster giveaway of cronyism and corruption the likes of which will make the Iraq reconstruction crooks blush.
[WaPo] The president will call on Washington to resist spending money unwisely, but some in his own party are already starting to recoil at a price tag expected to exceed $200 billion -- about the cost of the Iraq war and reconstruction efforts. As emergency expenditures soar -- with new commitments as high as $2 billion a day -- some budget analysts and conservative groups are warning that the Katrina spending has combined with earlier fiscal decisions in ways that will wreak havoc on the government's finances for years to come.
Quit yer frettin', there's votes to buy and corporations to gravy...
Josh Marshall says it better than I can...
This worries me. Note the added emphasis. The clip comes from a piece in tomorrow's Post about yet another huge funding bill the president will roll out tomorrow for Katrina aid, which the Post says will cost more next year than the entire cost of the Iraq war thus far...
Bush and Republican congressional leaders, by contrast, are calculating that the U.S. economy can safely absorb a sharp spike in spending and budget deficits, and that the only way to regain public confidence after the stumbling early response to the disaster is to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the region and help Katrina's victims get back on their feet.
Regain public confidence in who? Is the nation undergoing a crisis of confidence in itself?
Put that passage together with this one in Mike Allen's piece in Time and I think you see where we're going ...
By late last week, Administration aides were describing a three-part comeback plan. The first: Spend freely, and worry about the tab and the consequences later. "Nothing can salve the wounds like money," said an official who helped develop the strategy.
What's driving this budgetary push is not a natural disaster but a political crisis, the president's political crisis. The White House is trying to undo self-inflicted political damage on the national dime.
[...] Maybe you want to spend $200 billion on rebuilding the Delta region too. Fine. Something like that will probably be necessary. But don't fool yourself into thinking that what's coming is just a matter of a different chef making the same meal. This will be Iraq all over again, with the same fetid mix of graft, zeal and hubris. Cronyism like you wouldn't believe. Money blown on ideological fantasies and half-baked test-cases.
You could come up with a hundred reasons why that's true. But at root intentions drive all. You'll never separate this operation or its results from the fact that the people in charge see it as a political operation. The use of this money for political purposes, for what amounts to a political campaign, tells you everything you need to know about what's coming.
In many ways this will be his most important speech yet. the stakes have never been higher for him. His approval ratings are worse than in the toilet (down in the 30s, which basically means his die-hard base is the only group that can stomach him), and the press is no longer afraid of him. It will be perhaps his last chance to assert himself and try to regain the territory lost over the last month.
So, what Bush is really talking about tonite is rebuilding his reputation, not New Orleans. And naturally, money is no object when it relates to his imagery, public perception and politics. It's a golden opportunity. Bush gets to lavish billion-dollar contracts on companies like Halliburton, and grease palms down to the most local of levels. And what of the resultant deficits? Well, "we're at War and this natural disaster we never budgeted for..." It's insulation from fiscal concerns and a club to wield on those who dare question (and a dessert topping!)
[UPDATE]: The Carpetbagger has more on the ideological reconstruction shenanigans. Go. Now.