The next sound you hear out of Washington will be the quiet click of a door closing on New Orleans’ poor. All of the Gulf Coast, actually. New Orleans is the rallying name behind the rhetoric, but hundreds of miles of shoreline towns have virtually disappeared, left to wading birds and alligators.
The presidential sound-bite is over with, behind us. George Bush no longer remembers speaking in somber tones from Andrew Jackson’s square. The bean-counters are in charge, sitting deep in the Republican saddle in Washington. Among other ‘fixes,’ they propose to cut $50 billion from next year’s budget in Medicare and Medicaid coverage for the poor. The poor? You mean the New Orleans poor? Those same folk the president so belatedly discovered on CNN?
Seems George is the only leader to experience an awakening to the plight of the have-nots in America. The fiscal conservative side of his supporters knew it all the time and it’s one of the things that made them furious—not the fact of the poor, but the programs for them. In their view, that’s what’s wrong with America and when they talk about smaller government, the same hatchet cuts the taxes for the rich as cuts the benefits for the poor.
These are equal-opportunity hatchet men.
Republicans don’t have to worry about coming up short at election time on George’s promise from Saint Louis Cathedral to root out the causes of poverty. There will be someone new at the candidate’s podium next time around, someone to promise a kinder, gentler, more compassionate conservative presidency.
Taking a leaf out of the religious book, neo conservatives promise the poor will find their reward in the next world. Just a smidge more kindness, a sliver more gentleness or an ounce more compassion and the poor may find that being left on a blazing rooftop without food or water wasn’t really all that bad.
Anyway, food stamps and farm supports are on the block as well as health care, although you can bet corporate farms won’t be affected—moms and pops are what fiscal conservatives are after, they just don’t hold up their end of lobbying contributions.
All this from something called the RSC, the Republican Study Committee. I’m unclear if these guys are studying to be Republicans, merely studying Republicans to see what makes them tick or have been sent home by Republicans to study more. A sort of homework on the homeless. But this group of young Turks jumped into the leadership void created by Tom DeLay’s unwillingness to believe he’d be indicted and have to leave someone in charge.
A Newt Gingrich replay.
Representative Mike Pence, Republican from Indiana and Chairman of the Homework Committee is always good for a nifty quote and he claims not to want “an argument with friends,” but I guess in his world it’s better than a confrontation with the out-of-work, out-of-a-home and out-of-luck in the Gulf Coast. Indiana is pretty far inland.
If you’re not out-of-work, out-of-a-home or out-of-luck, Washington is a very amusing place to watch right now. Since Bush got caught with his hip-boots around his ankles, Congress just fell all over itself getting back to Washington to show their sympathy for Katrina victims. In Washington, sympathy is offered and authored by getting your name on a spending bill and they were flying; $10 billion in the first days and another $52 billion pending. Pending? Spending? It’s only a letter apart and not even a vowel at that.
Mike Pence is riding the wave of talk-show, internet pundits and conservative columnists who are angry at just about everything their free-spending Republican brethren have done lately. And when Republicans think their own party has been spending too lavishly, it’s time to get off the roof.