So apparently what Bush is going to announce tomorrow night is the creation, on the Gulf Coast, of the new state of Norquistan -- a place where government has actually been drowned, not in a bathtub, but rather in the polluted waters of Lake Pontchartrain, and the twentieth century has thus been repealed:
From today's Washington Post:
...The first major public event in the White House effort to take control of the post-Katrina political and policy agenda will occur tomorrow night in a prime-time speech to the nation.
...Bush already has dispatched his top strategist, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and other aides to assemble ideas from agencies, conservative think tanks, GOP lawmakers and state officials.... The idea, aides said, is [to] provide a quick federal response that comports with Bush's governing philosophy....
In what may become the next major post-Katrina policy, the White House was working yesterday to suspend wage supports for service workers in the hurricane zone as it did for construction workers on federal contracts last week, administration and congressional officials said.
... the Bush administration and congressional GOP leaders are working on proposals to encourage business investment in the devastated areas and to test conservative ideas such as ... low-tax business zones and waived environmental regulations.
...Republicans are lining up behind plans to use vouchers to help displaced students find new schools, including private ones, and a mix of vouchers and tax breaks to help flood victims pay for health care expenses, from insurance to immunization....
Grover Norquist, a Rove ally who runs Americans for Tax Reform, is among those lobbying the White House to suspend wage supports for service workers in the hurricane zone....
So I guess if you want to read the speech before Bush delivers it, you can go here and read it in the form of a Heritage Foundation "research" paper (lead author: Ed Meese). Solutions in the "research" paper and the list of proposals in the Post article are almost exactly in sync -- although the Heritage paper also recommends ANWR drilling, medical savings accounts, elimination of the estate tax, "improving ... personal responsibility," and turning over some recovery responsibilities to "faith-based groups, as well as uncertified or non-union individuals."
So this is going to be Bush's big, inspirational speech -- the Scrooge-like agenda of right-wing think tanks, delivered as a gift to the nation while bodies are still being recovered.
By the way, does anyone else find it odd that the Bush administration keeps talking about cutting the pay of those involved in the recovery? Whatever happened to all of John Stossel's blather about having to pay people more to get them to supply needed services after a disaster?
UPDATE, THURSDAY MORNING: From today's Washington Post:
President Bush will call tonight for an unprecedented federal commitment to rebuild New Orleans and other areas obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, putting the United States on pace to spend more in the next year on the storm's aftermath than it has over three years on the Iraq war, according to White House and congressional officials....
So pewrhaps he's just going to talk about dessert tonight, and save the soggy vegetables for later.