Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Never Miss an Opportunity to Cut Taxes

At the risk of sounding like a callous opportunist, I for one am shocked that Democrats haven’t been able to use Katrina to garner some political leverage. An article in the NYTs today notes how it has been Republicans and not Democrats who have used Katrina to push their agenda.

Conservatives have already used the storm for causes of their own, like suspending requirements that federal contractors have affirmative action plans and pay locally prevailing wages. And with federal costs for rebuilding the Gulf Coast estimated at up to $200 billion, Congressional Republican leaders are pushing for spending cuts, with programs like Medicaid and food stamps especially vulnerable.
Cut services to the poor to rehabilitate the poor in the wake of a disaster. I don’t follow the logic here. Even if lowering the minimum wage and cutting services boosts the rebuilding efforts (which I don’t believe it will) by channeling all available resources into restoring the infrastructure of the Gulf Coast, it ignores the real crux of the Katrina disaster: the middle and upper class got out and the poor didn’t. Homes in the cheapest and poorest parts of the city were destroyed, nicer homes built on high ground survived with less damage. Call me crazy, but I think a legitimate plan for recovery should address the economic disparities at the root of the problem.

I’d say the Republican plan seems misguided, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s right on target: cut taxes, cut services. Isn't that what they were looking to do all along? I guess they’re not worried about looking like callous opportunists either.

--Matthew McCoy