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Bush to Request More Aid Funding
Analysts Warn of Spending's Impact
By Jonathan Weisman and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 15, 2005; A01
President Bush will call tonight for an unprecedented federal commitment to rebuild New Orleans and other areas obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, putting the United States on pace to spend more in the next year on the storm's aftermath than it has over three years on the Iraq war, according to White House and congressional officials.
With the federal tab for Katrina already nearly quadruple the cost of the country's previous most expensive natural disaster cleanup, Bush plans to offer federal assistance to help flood victims find jobs, get housing and health care, and attend school, according to White House aides.
In a speech from the flood zone, Bush will commit the federal government to what many predict will become the largest reconstruction effort ever on U.S. soil.
The president will call on Washington to resist spending money unwisely, but some in his own party are already starting to recoil at a price tag expected to exceed $200 billion -- about the cost of the Iraq war and reconstruction efforts. As emergency expenditures soar -- with new commitments as high as $2 billion a day -- some budget analysts and conservative groups are warning that the Katrina spending has combined with earlier fiscal decisions in ways that will wreak havoc on the government's finances for years to come.
Bush and Republican congressional leaders, by contrast, are calculating that the U.S. economy can safely absorb a sharp spike in spending and budget deficits, and that the only way to regain public confidence after the stumbling early response to the disaster is to spend whatever it takes to rebuild the region and help Katrina's victims get back on their feet.
First strategy from NYTimes.com:
September 5, 2005
White House Enacts a Plan to Ease Political Damage
By ADAM NAGOURNEY and ANNE E. KORNBLUT
WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 - Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.
It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.
The effort is being directed by Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, and his communications director, Dan Bartlett. It began late last week after Congressional Republicans called White House officials to register alarm about what they saw as a feeble response by Mr. Bush to the hurricane, according to Republican Congressional aides.