President Bush has stated that the Hurricane Katrina Federal relief effort and the rebuilding of areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama affected by the storm will not be paid for with deficit spending or with tax increases. I think it's his way of forcing Congress to consider and implement the process of really cutting the Federal budget. So far, Republicans have been every bit as bad as Democrats when they were in power about happily using taxpayer monies for every pork or pal or lobbyist project to come down the pike. It's a disgrace for Republicans to behave this way, when they are at least nominally the party of small government and fiscal responsibility.
So, there's now an Internet initiative called "Porkbusters" to help Congress along. Bloggers all across America, and hopefully across the political spectrum, are
identifying potential budget cuts for their local and state Congressors and Senators to look at.
You can learn more about Porkbusters here and here. You can also go to the Citizens Against Government Waste website to read their "Pigbook" of pork projects for an idea of what's available for cutting. (How and why the label of pork is applied.)
The Tennessee page is accessible here. (Just choose "Tennessee" from the first list and leave the other two alone.) Prominent among the projects listed were several entries for the Memphis Biotech Foundation / Initiative, the effort to remodel the old Baptist Memorial Hospital site downtown into a "public-private corporate park" dedicated to biotechnology research. (More here.) That's getting tens of millions of Federal taxpayer dollars for what is, essentially, a local business and downtown venture. (And a gold mine for developers. Did you know that demolition of the site was paid for by the City with funds from an unrelated City Inspection engineers fees tax?) But there are many, many more suspect appropriations to peruse.
Also today, there was a press release about "Operation Offset", a Congressional Republican Study Committee response to the Porkbusters idea. A group of legislators in the House (including Tennessee's Marsha Blackburn) has looked at a lot of ideas and generated a lot of ways to cut the budget and help pay for Katrina relief and rebuilding. You can read their website and study their report online. I haven't gone through it yet, but there are some promising ideas on first glance.
Feel free to join in the effort, no matter your outlook or politics. The upside is less Congressional waste, lower taxes and more effective spending on what really matters (however you define it). It's a win-win for all.