WASHINGTON—President Bush said today the federal government must slash unnecessary spending to pay for Gulf Coast reconstruction, but he ruled out raising taxes. “You bet it will cost money, but I’m confident we can handle it,” Bush said.
Bush spoke at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin hours after attending a prayer service in memory of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Addressing religious and political leaders at the National Cathedral, the president 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,” Bush said at the cathedral. Polls suggest a majority of Americans believe the president should have responded quicker to Katrina. High percentages of blacks tell pollsters they believe race played a role in the slow response by all levels of government.