HULSHOF STATEMENT REGARDING FISCAL CHALLENGES IN KATRINA'S AFTERMATH
WASHINGTON, DC. - - The following is a statement from U.S. Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) regarding the challenges that lie ahead in paying for Katrina's cleanup:
"In the aftermath of Katrina, it is imperative for Congress to help our fellow citizens of the Gulf Coast who have been ravaged by the storm. At this point, there is no way to determine what the final price tag will be for recovery and rebuilding.
"It is worth noting that America's economy was experiencing healthy growth before Katrina hit our shores. Our deficit was shrinking, jobs were being created, and inflation was being held in check. If we make the right decisions, this progress will continue, and the communities in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that were devastated by the hurricane will share in this prosperity.
"With that in mind, the federal government must remain fully involved in recovery efforts, and Congress should consider appropriate legislative changes that will stimulate private sector growth and involvement in rebuilding the Gulf Coast.
"Though the final cost of the recovery effort is unknown, we do know that it will take a significant federal commitment. With these potential costs in mind, Congress should be prudent stewards of the taxpayers' money and redouble its efforts to reduce federal spending.
"Knowing that Gulf Coast recovery efforts will be expensive, it is only appropriate that we move forward with a process that requires the Congress to find budget savings and eliminate waste and duplication.
"Though we should scour the federal budget for savings, I do not support withholding the prescription drug benefit promised to seniors in the Medicare reform bill passed in 2003. Seniors have been waiting long enough for this much-needed relief. I am also opposed to withholding money designated for much-needed highway improvements. The gas taxes paid by motorists fund the federal highway program, and it is appropriate that the gas taxes paid by our state's motorists should be used to address our pressing transportation needs. When the highway bill passed earlier this year, we said the safety improvements were a matter of life and death. That remains the case today.
"Lastly, I do not think a tax increase is appropriate. A tax hike that hits those who create jobs and opportunity will hinder the very economic growth we need to help recover from Katrina.
"With the right combination of fiscal restraint and private sector economic stimulus, we can address the challenges posed by Hurricane Katrina in a fiscally responsible manner."