Two weeks ago this column was devoted to the spiraling cost of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I said then - and I repeat today - we cannot put this expense off on future generations and we cannot expect the dwindling number of taxpayers to dig even deeper to pay these costs. We must find ways to reduce federal spending in the short-term to pay the bills that will soon come due.
Well, guess what? Those bills are coming due right around now. The Louisiana Congressional delegation has asked for $250 billion to rebuild their state. Mississippi expects to request somewhere between $30-50 billion. Texas has yet to offer an amount.
At the same time, Congress on Friday approved another $60 billion to fight the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Total cost for the war against terrorism will top $300-500 billion.
Just do the math. Then ask what sacrifice taxpayers would need to meet this enormous cost. Or ask yourself what future generations would sacrifice were these bills postponed for a decade or so. Neither of these solutions is acceptable. We have no choice other than to make deep cuts in federal spending. And that should include entitlement programs.
For far too long, some federal spending programs have been off-limits. In the best of times, that policy is acceptable. But these are not the best of times. And everything from farm subsidies to Social Security should be included in the discussion. Medicaid and Medicare must be included as well. In short, nothing should be left off the table.
Let's say the final price of the war and the hurricane recovery hits $800 billion. Just where and how is our federal government expected to find this extra revenue? The answer of course is that the revenue cannot and will not be found. But proposing more taxes is just wrong. People in the upper bracket of the tax code pay far upward of 40 percent of their income in taxes right now. The lower income brackets continue to pay nothing. So are we going to drain these wage-earners beyond what they are capable to pay? Just imagine the results.
So let's just put it off for our grandchildren to pay. That trillion dollar solution would virtually kill a generation. If we take that direction, shame on each and everyone of us.
There is but one answer. Cut current federal spending. For far too long, far too many people have come to rely on the federal government. That day should come to an end. If we hold any program sacred in these difficult times, we are simply wrong.
And quite frankly, if the current administration lacks the guts to make these unpopular moves, we deserve our eventual fate.