|The problem facing Mr. Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress is not the cost of Katrina itself. The problem is that, even before Katrina, Congress and the White House had lost their grip on the budget.
In the last few years, huge chunks of the federal budget have been channeled through emergency supplemental bills. Part of that money was for natural disasters, but a much bigger part of it was for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts from Uzbekistan to Africa. The budget is also packed with fiscal time bombs - Medicare prescription benefits, tax cuts and health care costs for veterans - that are set to explode in the next few years.