I think for the most part the President said what needed to be said. I only wish he would have addressed the race issue some, but perhaps that will come later.
I want to address this part of my post to fiscal conservatives out there. I consider myself a social moderate but on fiscal issues, I am solidly conservative. I am upset at how a Republican-controlled Congress and administration have spent like wildfire over the last five years with very little concern for fiscal responsibility and accountability.
That said, the reactions on programs like Joe Scarborough’s from other fiscal conservatives have me shaking my head in wonderment. They seem to be flipping out over the fact that the rebuilding effort is probably going to cost around $200 billion – and if we’re honest with ourselves, I think it’s safe to say it’s going to cost more than that when all is said and done. Yes, I understand and am upset that federal spending has been out of control for the last five years, but complaining about a $200 billion price tag when it comes to rebuilding a huge part of the Gulf Coast that has been completely devastated seems almost like John Kerry and John Edwards wondering how we were going to come up with the $87 billion for defense spending (you know, the one Kerry voted for before, before he voted against it).
Like the mission in Iraq, our military needed that money regardless of where it came from. The same rule applies here. I understand the need for fiscal accountability and responsibility and demand it from our government at all times. But we have a huge chunk of the Gulf Coast region that has been completely wiped out. Those three states (La., AL, MS) are not going to be able to foot that massive bill for rebuilding individually. The feds in this case *have* to and *must* step up to the plate here. I know the devil is in the details, and they will be worked out later – I’m also glad to know that the President is putting in place people to oversee how this money will be spent to ensure that it will be done responsibly.
Think of it this way: what has happened in the devastated areas has not just affected those areas, it’s affected us all. It’s affected us economically and socially as a nation and whether you want to admit it or not, when that happens, the feds do have a role to play. I’m for limited government and fiscal responsiblity, too, but a tragedy of this magnitude demands a bigger role for the feds and a high price tag. When you’ve got entire cities in three states that are completely devastated, we can’t expect the state governments to rebuild on the cheap. It requires a federal response.
As I said earlier, if you want to get mad at our Congress and the President for wasteful spending the last five years, I’m right there with you. But be mad at them for spending that money on unnecessary pork projects, not what it’s going to cost to rebuild a good portion of the Gulf Coast. Now is not the time to pinch pennies. That’s not to say we should put an unlimited supply of money out there, but quibbling over a $200B price tag when you’ve got a region as devastated as the Gulf Coast is now, seems to ignore the realities of what’s going to have to be done in the affected areas. A good idea at this point would be to demand from your representatives and Senators that from this point forward, they start exercising a major amount of fiscal responsibility considering the price tag of rebuilding from Katrina. Don’t ask them to skimp on relief efforts, ask them to stop asking for money for their pork projects. Tell them to stop stuffing unrelated bills with unnecessary requests for their states. But don’t ask them to cheap out on the relief effort for Katrina.
That area of the country needs help from us all, and the last thing we should do is go ballistic over the rebuilding effort. Look at the pictures. It’s obvious this isn’t going to be any small venture. It’s going to be something that has to be done on a massive scale and it’s something no state can or should have to handle on its own.
(Cross-posted at BlogsForBush)
More: Hugh Hewitt nails it:
Perfect pitch returned tonight, and the president’s looks backward and forward were on target. As Chris Matthews observed, it sounded a little LBJ/FDR-like in its vows about the underclass of the recovery region, but that is exactly why it worked so well: That is what needs to happen, and he identified the best approaches in the empowerment of entrepeneurs and the retraining of the evacuees. The enterprise zone could prove a turbo charged motor to the effort, and the promise of innovation was well delivered.
So too was the emphasis of the president on the private side of the relief effort, on the central issue of home ownership, and of the need for local union to help local union, small congregation to help its similarly situated cousin, for every American to stay committed. The president’s sincere faith connected with Americans of sincere faith, and the weeks and months ahead will show again and again that this trust in the avergae American’s good will is well placed.
(Hat tip for Hewitt link: Powerline)
Related: ABC News interviewed Katrina victims reactions to the President’s speech and I don’t think they (ABC) got the answers that they thought they would! See NewsBusters for the full story.
Late morning update: Take Glenn’s poll where he asks about what programs Congress should start trimming back in order to pay for the Katrina relief effort.