By MANIFESTO JOE
There's an old saying that when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. George W. Bush apparently never heard that one.
In recently announcing what could become the biggest federal public works program since the New Deal, it wasn't surprising that Bush is prepared to buy his way out of yet another fiasco -- with borrowed money.
Not that I'm opposed to rebuilding New Orleans. America would be stupid to let such a rich part of our cultural heritage just wash out into the Gulf of Mexico (a la Dennis Hastert's philistine remark).
The obvious question -- or at least it should be obvious -- is how the "president" plans to pay for $200 billion worth of reconstruction without raising anybody's taxes.
Not only is he not answering the question sensibly, he's actually proposing new tax breaks for businesses to build in the hurricane-ravaged areas. And Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown and Root subsidiary, already $9 billion richer from no-bid contracts in Iraq, is up for similar deals in the stricken region, as are other companies with administration ties.
In July 2003, Nobel laureate economist George A. Akerlof told the German magazine Der Spiegel, "I think this is the worst government the U.S. has ever had ... What we have here is a form of looting." Akerlof's words are ironic now, considering the media outcry about The Big Easy's impoverished black looters, and the relative media silence about Bush sweetheart deals with corporate cronies.
It's bad enough that American "capitalism" has been largely transformed into socialism for the rich. And it's bad enough to see corporate friends of this administration given a near blank check to exploit the Treasury.
The worst part, with regard to our nation's future, is that this "president" is offering no plan to pay for this largesse, other than perhaps to strip the poor and the working class of what social safety net they have left. True, he hasn't been very specific about what cuts are planned; but don't expect shared sacrifice. With a war to pay for, and possibly more tax bonanzas on the way, it's pretty obvious who's going to be in the crosshairs -- the same people who have been since Jan. 20, 2001.
Of course, they still won't find enough money to do the rebuilding. So they'll borrow the rest, putting the U.S. economy in even greater peril.
Mr. Bush, unless it is your intention to put this economy 6 feet under -- please, quit digging.
MANIFESTO JOE IS AN UNDERGROUND WRITER LIVING IN TEXAS.
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