October 1, 2005


Relief with a Vision (Larry Kudlow, Sep 30, 2005, Townhall)

During this hurricane season of George W. Bush’s political discontent, the president has been slammed almost uniformly by pundits on the left and the right. Some criticisms about the administration’s late reaction to Katrina, and FEMA’s inadequacies in a crisis, are justified. But critics, especially in the conservative ranks, are missing two crucial messages being sent by the president -- messages that could endure long after the names Katrina and Rita are just names again. [...]

A second crucial message that most conservative critics are missing has to do with free-enterprise and ownership in the post-Katrina/Rita world. Along with emergency funds for victim-relief and infrastructure rebuilding (the latter of which is mandated by law), the president is proposing a free-enterprise, anti-poverty program to deal with the long-term decline of New Orleans. Bush has adopted this from Jack Kemp, whose idea for zones of lower taxation and regulation in the Gulf will incentivize private capital formation and put businesses in the recovery driver’s seat.

Bush is also restating his vision for an ownership society in the form of a homesteading program for middle- and lower-income hurricane victims. Mingled with this is his theme of personal responsibility, whereby vouchers for education, employment, and health care will give choice and access to those who most need it. Rather than creating a new New Deal, which would cater to the failed welfare state of New Orleans, Bush is proposing a conservative vision that can be copied in blighted urban areas nationwide.

These are far-reaching reforms that will be vastly more important and more enduring than the temporary financial-assistance plans that have so occupied the musings of conservative think-tankers.

It may be many years before Bush is given credit for waging war against both radical Islamic terrorists and welfarist anti-poverty programs. But he is smarter than the punditocracy thinks. And his long-run vision for the health, security, and welfare of this country is far grander than most of his critics could ever dream possible.

The confluence of the hysterical critiques from Left and Right shows W to have positioned himself in the new mainstream.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2005 8:16 AM