Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A Leader?

Bush is many things, but sadly, he is not a good leader...

President Bush is not standing for re-election. For better or for worse he's had two terms to leave his impact on America. But unfortunately, his vision for leadership on paying for Katrina clean-up/reconstruction amounts to simply saying.."We need to find cuts to offset the costs." He can do and should do more.

His GOP Colleagues in Congress must stand for re-election, all members of the House next year along with 1/3 of the Senate. They have to face the voters, and as a result, stepping up to the plate to say "cut programs in my district" isn't something that most would do, without knowing that other members of the House or Senate would do the same. But from his bullypulpit in the White House, President Bush and his staff could put forward a program or set of cuts to help offset the estimated $200 billion for reconstruction. For example, the highway bill was something like $30 billion over the limit the president himself set for spending, although his threatened veto never came. Asking, or commanding Congress to go back and meet those spending limits gets us almost 10% of the offsets we need. Of course trimming the increase in NASA's budget would yield similar savings. NASA, who's human space flight program is of questionable benefit, could squeeze around $3 billion a year over the next 20 years by killing the shuttle, space station and cutting the dubious return to the moon program. Restore NASA's budget to its pre-FY2006 levels of $13 billion and re allocate the $3 billion of twenty years and you get another $60 billion...with the highway bill savings that's $90 billion dollars, just under 1/2 of what we may need.

Of course that's not the President's view of leadership. We saw that on the Social Security debate. He comes out with a vague plan, so there's less to criticize, and expects others to step up with details (and of course face the inevitable harsh criticism for providing details). But unlike members of Congress, Mr. Bush isn't running for re-election and he could use that as a political shield for those that are. Here is my plan, he could say, vote it up or vote it down, but this will offset the costs so we can keep the already enormous deficits in check.

That sort of decisive action is both good politics and good leadership. It'd be nice to see it after so many years of waiting....

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