October 03, 2005

Gulf Coast Reconstruction

The cost of rebuilding the Gulf Coast, while huge, is far less than what President Bush has given away in tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent.2 National crises like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina are times for all Americans to stick together and put in our fair share.
So today we're launching an urgent petition to Congress to fully rebuild the Gulf Coast and pay for it by ending Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy, not by slashing vital services that Americans need. If we can gather a quarter million signatures this week, we can show them that this destructive plan just won't fly.
Please sign today

The Republican proposal, titled "Operation Offset," was authored by the Republican Study Committee, a group of over 100 influential members of Congress, including powerful committee chairs and members of the Republican leadership.3 The proposal starts with support from at least these 100 representatives, and they are looking to quickly build momentum.
A full reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region is generally estimated to cost around $200 billion.4 We could more than meet this cost by rolling back Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for just the wealthiest one percent of the country, which would save us an estimated $327 billion.5
"Operation Offset," however, calls for an astounding $949 billion dollars in cuts over 10 years to vital national services.6—almost five times the full cost of reconstruction. To further put that in perspective, it's also more than 4 times what we've spent in Iraq.7
This plan is not about "offsetting," or rebuilding—it's about exploiting this crisis to push their longstanding goals for America. As conservative movement leader Grover Norquist has often put it, the goal is to get government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."8 This proposal is their latest attempt to drown the public sector.
The excess of the Republicans' proposed cuts is almost unbelievable. You can read the full proposal here.

Here are just some of the most egregious cuts:
$225 billion cut from Medicaid, the last-resort health insurance program for the very poor.
$200 billion cut from Medicare, the health care safety net for the elderly and the disabled.
$25 billion cut from the Centers for Disease Control
$6.7 billion cut from school lunches for poor children
$7.5 billion cut from programs to fight global AIDS
$5.5 billion to eliminate all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
$3.6 billion cut to eliminate the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
$8.5 billion cut to eliminate all subsidized loans to graduate students.
$2.5 billion cut from Amtrak
$2.5 billion to eliminate the Hydrogen Fuel Initiative
$417 million cut to eliminate the Minority Business Development Agency
$4.8 billion cut to eliminate all funding for the Safe and Drug-Free schools program
And the list goes on and on.
Which and how many of these cuts move forward in Congress depends largely on the public response this week.
As the reconstruction begins our country faces a basic question: Will we respond to Katrina by banding together to solve national problems, or by helping the wealthy and powerful cut and run while those left behind fend for ourselves?
The radical Republicans have spoken up loud and clear with their answer, and we must respond with ours.

Please sign today: