Krugman wonders if the question should be if, not when Bush will deliver on his promise to pay for "the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen. " Krugman says,
"First, Mr. Bush already has a record of trying to renege on pledges to a stricken city. After 9/11 he made big promises to New York. But as soon as his bullhorn moment was past, officials began trying to wriggle out of his pledge. By early toot his budget director was accusing New York 's elected representatives who wanted to know what had happened to the promised aid, of engaging in a "money-grubbing gam. " It 's not clear how much federal help the city has actually received. "
Krugman says that congress is now in recess, that by the time it returns, seven weeks will have passed since Katrina and the levee floods, observes
"And the administration has spent much of that time blocking efforts to aid Katrina 's victims. "
" ...why the news media haven 't made more of the White House role in stalling a bipartisan bill that would have extended Medicaid coverage to all low-income hurricane victims --some of whom, according to the surveys, can 't afford needed medicine. "
He also brings up the craven position the White House is taking, insisting that disaster loans to local governments that don 't have tax bases any more will not be forgiven. He calls it "cruel and unusual. " He adds,
"Since the administration is already nickel-and-diming Katrina 's victims, it 's a good bet that it will do the same with reconstruction --that is, if reconstruction ever gets started, "
Krugman points out that that there are " ...no visible signs that the administration has even begun developing a plan. " He reports that while his paper, the NY Times, reported that Karl Rove was placed in charge, Rove has been "a lot less visible " since he 's been the subject of speculation that he 'll be indicted by prosecutors of the Plame case, and asks if Rove was ever running the reconstruction. Scott McClellan was asked who was running the reconstruction and he replied, "The President. "
Now that 's a joke. The only thing Bush is good at is running things into the ground --businesses, war efforts, diplomacy, world 's most powerful nation, ecology, democracy. The people of the gulf are doomed, if he 's in charge. The good news is that Clinton appointee, James Lee Witt, who Bush complimented for his competence, is helping out.
Pathetically, the NY Times, instead of covering his work as a shining oasis of great work in a sea of Bush crony incompetence, takes the angle with this title and sub-title, FEMA Director Under Clinton Profits From Experience As a consultant, James Lee Witt is having to step deftly to avoid being perceived as a disaster profiteer. The Times is taking a thinly veiled swipe at the one man who could have done a a good job if he was in charge of FEMA.
Since it is likely that "Bush will remain hostile to domestic spending that might threaten his tax cuts. " So he speculates that there will be foot dragging as a natural political response as a way to deal with the Katrina reconstruction --a way to prevent any tax raises. Others have said that any money that Bush puts up will be borrowed from the Chinese, putting the US further into debt.
Krugman reports that he 's reading an "important book, OFF CENTER, by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Yale and Berkeley political scientists. He reports the book 's goal is to explain
"how Republicans, who face a generally moderate electorate and won recent national elections by "the slimmest of margins, " have nonetheless been able to advance a radical rightist agenda..
"One of their "new rules for radicals " is "Don 't just do something, stand there. "
He observes that "sometimes frontal assaults on government programs tend to fail, as Mr. Bush learned in his hapless attempt to sell Social Security privatization. " He quotes the authors, Hacker and Pierson, who point out, "Sometimes decisions not to act can be a powerful means of reshaping the role of government. " Krugman mentions the minimum wage as an example which the public strongly supports, but conservatives actually cut by allowing inflation to eat into wages through their inaction.
Krugman wraps up the article suggesting he may be overanalyzing, that it may not be intentional foot dragging. Maybe it 's just "out-of-touch leadership and a lack of competent people.
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