What strange days these last two have been. Yesterday Bush actually accepted responsibility for the Federal Government’s failures in responding to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina. And tonight, Bush gave a special address to the nation from Jackson Square in New Orleans in which he said the government would take on the huge costs of rebuilding the devastated areas of the Gulf Coast.
“The work that has begun in the Gulf Coast region will be one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen,” Bush said. He praised Americans for giving generously for disaster relief, saying the fund led by former Presidents Bush and Clinton had received pledges of more than $100 million.
Rebuilding across the devastated region is expected to cost $200 billion or more in the near term. The final tab could approach the more than $300 billion spent thus far on U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress has already approved $62 billion for the disaster, but that is expected to run out next month.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., speaking after the president’s address, said the recovery programs would add to the nation’s debt. GOP leaders are open to suggestions from lawmakers to cut government spending elsewhere, he said.
Yes, the recovery programs will add to our nation’s debt. But just how bad is the debt? Take a look at this chart and see for yourself.
Chart via Bartcop. (Visit the site. It’s full of fun stuff.)
That chart shows the deficit before taking into account any spending on Gulf Coast recovery or the Iraq War in 2005. Obviously, our government needs to take in more money to carry out its agenda without going bankrupt. Will the majority party start pushing for tax increases to pay for these projects?