Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Republicans. They've even given it a military sounding name. Only a bunch of chickenhawks could do that:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 - Conservative House Republicans plan to recommend on Wednesday more than $500 billion in savings over 10 years to compensate for the costs of Hurricane Katrina as lawmakers continue to struggle to develop a consensus on the fiscal approach to the disaster.

At the top of a partial list of the potential cuts being circulated on Tuesday were previously suggested ideas like delaying the start of the new Medicare prescription drug coverage for one year to save $31 billion and eliminating $25 billion in projects from the newly enacted transportation measure.

The list also proposed eliminating the Moon-Mars initiative that NASA announced on Monday, for $44 billion in savings; ending support for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, $4 billion; cutting taxpayer payments for the national political conventions and the presidential election campaign fund, $600 million; and charging federal employees for parking, $1.54 billion.

"What House conservatives will demonstrate through Operation Offset is that there is more than enough room in the federal budget to provide for the needs of the families affected by Katrina without raising taxes," said a House Republican aide who is working with lawmakers on the proposals and who insisted on anonymity because the package would not be made public until Wednesday.

The suggestions are certain to draw serious opposition from other lawmakers who consider those programs essential, illustrating the difficulty faced by the majority Republicans in finding acceptable ways to offset the hurricane costs.

Before the list was made public, Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, declared that delaying the Medicare plan was a nonstarter. Mr. DeLay also expressed skepticism that most lawmakers would want to revisit the transportation bill, saying he would be reluctant to sacrifice the projects that he won for his district in the Houston area.

"My earmarks are pretty important to building an economy in that region," Mr. DeLay said of the local projects he backed in the bill. A watchdog group said those items totaled more than $114 million.

They'll probably have some success pulling out the few bits of pork which go to Democratic districts. Oh, and I bet Jim Gerlach's train money will get pulled (along with any other public transit money they can get their hands on). I'm personally happy to kill the Medicare drug bill, but as a matter of pure politics I wouldn't mind Democrats running on a "Republican stole your Medicare drug plan" platform next year.

Presidential election campaign fund?

As for Nasa.... Mars, bitches, MARS!