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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Nation needs financial plan for rebuilding Gulf Coast

President Bush's Thursday night address to the nation from New Orleans left one gigantic question unanswered.

How is the nation going to pay the bill for re-establishing the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina?

Sure, we can rebuild New Orleans, as the president promised, and the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, too, that Katrina destroyed.

But, how are we going to pay for it?

The president didn't say and neither is Congress, which holds the nation's purse strings.

The quick and easy answer is to borrow a few more billion dollars. But where does borrowing stop?

The national debt is now over $7 trillion and accelerating at a frightful pace. It has increased at the rate of $1.66 billion a day since Sept. 30 of last year.

The deficit took more than six years to go from $5 trillion to $6 trillion, but less than two years to jump from $6 trillion to $7 trillion.

And that was before Hurricane Katrina.

Government officials are now using the $200 billion figure as the amount of money needed to carry out the president's promises. So add that amount to the growing deficit.

The nation can get the money by borrowing, it can come from cutting other spending, or it can raise taxes.

Unfortunately, Congress is in tune with public sentiment on that one. No tax hikes.

Neither does anyone want his or her favorite federal program cut, and the war cost must go on even after the troops leave. So, that leaves us with the less painful solution of borrowing more money.

For decades, Republicans railed at Democrats for deficit spending. "Tax and spend Democrats" was their favorite campaign slogan.

The nation now must ask itself if taxing and spending is any worse than record borrowing and spending.

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