In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it now appears the Republican Party has made a strategic decision to use the disaster to push its far-right ideological agenda - no matter how off-topic it is. In the last two weeks, we've seen top Republicans use the disaster to justify all sorts of unrelated and fringe-conservative proposals. Here are just a few:
GOP USES KATRINA TO JUSTIFY PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY: CongressDaily last week reported that the White House is using the disaster on the Gulf Coast to justify its scheme to privatize Social Security. Bush spokesman Trent Duffy "asserted that the vast spending that would be required to address the hurricane's impact adds to the need to change Social Security, which threatens to strain the budget in coming years." This, even though Bush's Social Security plan would actually run up costs, not save money.
GOP USES KATRINA TO JUSTIFY RELIGIOUS RIGHT'S AGENDA: The New York Times reported last week that "Republican leaders in Congress and some White House officials see opportunities in Hurricane Katrina to advance longstanding conservative goals like giving students vouchers to pay for private schools [and] paying churches to help with temporary housing" - both key tenets of the religious right's agenda.
GOP USES KATRINA TO LOWER THE MINIMUM WAGE: Reuters reports that last week President Bush signed an executive order suspending the Davis-Bacon law in the Gulf Coast. The law forces federal contractors to pay their workers the prevailing wages (aka. the minimum wage). Now, contractors like Halliburton and Bechtel, which Bush once again is giving no-bid contracts to for cleanup, can take billions in taxpayer cash while undermining workers' wages.
GOP USES KATRINA TO JUSTIFY MORE GIVEAWAYS TO OIL INDUSTRY: Just weeks after passing a massive energy bill that gave profiteering oil companies billions in new tax breaks, the Hill Newspaper reports that congressional Republicans are planning to use the Gulf Coast disaster as an excuse to push another energy bill.
When you look at this list, it seems the only thing Republicans aren't using Hurricane Katrina to justify is improving the government's crisis response, and re-evaluating conservatives' tax-cuts-at-all-costs agenda that has so severely underfunded government services/disaster preparation as to allow this calamity to get so bad.
CongressDaily on White House using Katrina to justify SS privatization:
New York Times on GOP using Katrina to justify religious right's agenda:
Reuters on Bush signing executive order undermining minimum wage laws:
Wall Street Journal on Bush giving no-bid reconstruction contracts to corporate cronies:
The Hill Newspaper on GOP using Katrina to justify another energy bill: