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Bush rules out tax hike to fund recovery
Updated: 2005-09-17 10:55

President Bush on Friday ruled out raising taxes to pay the massive costs of Gulf Coast reconstruction, saying other government spending must be cut to pay for a recovery effort expected to swell the national debt by $200 billion or more.

President Bush answers a question during a joint press conference Russian President Vladimir Putin in the East Room of the White House, Friday, Sept. 16, 2005, in Washington. [AP]

Hours earlier, Bush vowed to help rebuild the region with an eye toward wiping out the persistent poverty and racial injustice that exist there.

"As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality," he said at a prayer service at Washington National Cathedral in memory of Hurricane Katrina's victims. Polls suggest a majority of Americans believe the president should have responded quicker to Katrina, and high percentages of blacks tell pollsters they believe race played a role in the slow response by all levels of government.

At the White House, the chairman of Bush's National Economic Council, Al Hubbard, made clear that Hurricane Katrina recovery costs are "coming from the American taxpayer." Another top aide, domestic policy adviser Claude Allen, said the administration had not identified any budget cuts to offset the disaster expense, and Bush did not name any either.

Congress already has approved $62 billion for the disaster, but that is expected to run out next month and require another budget-busting installment. The federal deficit was projected at $333 billion for the current year before the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast more than two weeks ago.

Some fiscal conservatives are expressing alarm at the prospect of such massive federal outlays without cutting other spending.

"It is inexcusable for the White House and Congress to not even make the effort to find at least some offsets to this new spending," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
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