It’s not too early to think about how to pay for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the other area communities that have been devastated. Indeed, a firm long-run plan will give the people who live(d) there more hope, and help discourage flight of the most mobile professionals that a city depends on for its economic health.
The government has already appropriated $10.5 billion for immediate relief, but that’s a drop in the bucket. And that, plus every other cent going forward, is just added to the deficit. So it’s time for Democrats to step up to the plate and propose an emergency surtax — like we used to do in wartime — to rebuild all the damaged areas. And to do it right, with coastal, wetland and barrier island reconstruction, so the next storm surge will not be so dangerous. It’s an expensive undertaking, but it’s the least we owe the people of the area after the hideous treatment they are now experiencing.
I don’t know exactly how big the tax would need to be, but I’m certain we could design one that’s suitably progressive. Ideally it would be focused on the people who’ve benefitted the most from the last five year’s growth, i.e. top 1% of the wealthy would pay the most, the next 20% would pay a share, and the rest (who have seen no benefit as a class, or even lost ground) would make NO more token payments. It’s especially important for Democrats to get out in front on this issue given the GOP leadership’s trial balloon, via House Speaker Dennis Hastert, if the idea that this national cultural landmark (and Democratic stronghold) should be left to rot.
Corrected: I had left out a key “NO” above.
Update: and how about a windfall profits tax for the oil refining business, now looking forward to much higher margins.