The price tag for protection against a Category 5 hurricane, which would involve not just stronger and higher levees but also new drainage canals and environmental restoration, would very likely run to well over $32 billion. That is a lot of money. But that starting point represents just 1.2 percent of this year's estimated $2.6 trillion in federal spending, which actually overstates the case, since the cost would be spread over many years. And it is barely one-third the cost of the $95 billion in tax cuts passed just last week by the House of Representatives.
Total allocations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror have topped $300 billion. All that money has been appropriated as the cost of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. But what was the worst possible case we fought to prevent?
Losing a major American city.
If Democrats do not use this properly in the coming elections cycles, I'm FedExing my stuffed donkey back to DNC headquarters. Say what you will about the duties of nation-building, the morality of abortion and the stickiness of charter schools. It really pales in comparison to letting a major American city rot while slashing taxes in large part to benefit the wealthiest one percent of Americans.*
*And before you get all persnickety, I know that most of the first three tax cuts passed were a) approved by Republicans AND Democrats and b) not the flagrantly elitist kind that usually gets my knickers in a twist (for example, the largest was to slow the expansion of the alternative income tax, a move that is merely SOMEWHAT flagrantly elitist). However, the cuts debated today are for $56 billion worth of cuts on dividends and capital gains which ARE flagrantly elitist and almost exclusively benefit the kind of people who did not need to rescued from their waterlogged homes by helicopter.