The Corner

Federalism & Rebuilding

Lots of readers ask why national taxpayers should be asked to foot the bill for the reconstruction of New Orleans. I think that is a perfectly legitimate question, even if I’m leaning toward reconstruction. It seems to me there are good arguments on both sides of the issue.

But I think it’s premature to ask it before we know what the price tag will be. However, I do think taxpayers should be asked and politicians who take a position one way or the other should expect to be held accountable. In other words, this is one of these things democracies are supposed to decide. I think the President of the United States is completely within his rights to put an end to anarchy and save the lives of thousands of Americans and that objections to this on federalism grounds doesn’t wash. But what happens after order is restored and the danger has passed is an entirely political question which should be answered through the political process. There are real issues of federalism and fairness when it comes to asking Americans to spend untold billions on the reconstruction effort. Again, I lean toward doing it because that’s what great nations do. But I’d like to hear the price tag first.

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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