Katrina: '06 - '08 Elections

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Upcoming federal elections may be changing before our eyes. The political consequences of Katrina could be felt for years. Katrina tested America's investment of billions of deficit dollars since 9/11 to ready our nation to better anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the next major catastrophe to hit us here at home. The Republican led government has had 4 years to study and prepare for this test. The polls are not out yet, but it is likely they will show the American people will give the Federal and affected State governments hit by Katrina, a barely passing, or even failing grade.

Actually, our government passed exceedingly in anticipating the path and ferocity of Katrina. Gulf coast states had days of warning this was going to be a big one and it was likely going to hurt, bad! However, our government's preparations for the areas likely to be hit, in terms of the people in those areas without resources to evacuate themselves despite a mandatory evacuation order, failed in many ways.

Another failure is immediately obvious: the missed opportunity to stockpile supplies in the Dome and Convention center ahead of the storm, and many others are surely to become known. Intense debate will take place over budget reductions for hurricane defenses over the last 5 years. The Whitehouse is already putting spokespersons like a Lt. Gen. in charge of the Army Corps of Engineers on the airwaves to defend the position that more money would not have made any difference. The Mayor of New Orleans C. Ray Nagin had a very different opinion in a radio interview on Sept 1. (No transcript yet.)

The political consequences will be many. One that is obvious will be in the state of Texas. In days, Houston's population increased by 25,000. San Antonio is working to house large numbers as well. In the days and weeks coming, many more refugees will be migrating to Texas. As many as 75 to 80% of these refugees are likely to be Democrats based on socioeconomic status, which could wreak havoc on Texas's gerrymandering of districts in favor of the GOP in recent years.

Since, there will be no migrating back home for large numbers of these refugees, Houston local politics could alter dramatically. Also, depending upon final distribution of Texas's large new immigration, some 2006 House of Representatives district maps which went Republican in 2004, could pose challenges to GOP incumbents in a couple of those districts.

Republicans are in a quagmire with Katrina. Prior to the killer storm, the ever-deepening national debt and deficits were weighing heavily on both Democratic and Republican voters minds. Many had expectations of a Republican Congress and President reducing the national debt. Those expectations were completely dashed. Katrina will be adding to our national debt for perhaps years to come, squeezing Republicans into the position of being bigger spenders than the Democrats when they held majority in Government.

Between the Republican Congress' pork laden spending bills for Medicare, Transportation, and Energy favoring corporate benefit, and Bush having cut taxes so deeply he cannot afford a Veto Pen, the hypocrisy of the GOP claiming title as the party of fiscal responsibility will not likely be overlooked in 2006 and 2008 by a very great many voters. And this will be especially true if Democrats maintain their Pay-As-You-Go mantra. The PayGo policy which Republicans opposed last year, which permitted Pres. Clinton to actually put the brakes on runaway spending in his last 4 years with Congressional bipartisan support, is likley to become a highly visible election issue.

Nationally, swing voters who went GOP in 2000 and 2004 may swing back or go Independent in 2006 and 2008 if recent polls regarding Bush's and the Republican Congress' approval rating are any indication. Those polls focused on the economy, (which is about to take another hit by Katrina's aftermath) and progress in Iraq. Coming polls will add the question of how Government responded to Katrina, and if those numbers are also below the 50% approval rating, it will add another tug on swing voters back to the Democrats.

In the 2008 Electoral College map, the 11 swing states could easily grow by one or two states in the aftermath of Katrina, especially if there is no end in sight for our occupation of Iraq. If 2 swing states that went GOP in 2004 go the other way in '06 and '08, the history of the Republican zenith of power in retrospect may be written.

It is much too early to know how much Katrina will cost our economy and add to our national debt. But with pundits already touting federal cost figures between 30 and 100 billion, and losses resulting from Katrina caused bankruptcies and reduced income tax revenues, it is certain Katrina's economic consequence will only add fuel to the firestorm of political finger pointing in the days leading up to the 2006 and 2008 elections.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on September 3, 2005 8:46 AM.

A Call for Temporary Civility was the previous entry in this blog.

Rehnquist is Dead. What Does It Mean? is the next entry in this blog.

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