Tallying the Costs

Hurricane Rita threatens to strain an already strapped federal budget. President Bush has promised to help everyone in need, but lawmakers are doubtful they'll be able to pay for it. Is it new tax time?

FNC wants to hear from YOU — Tell us what you think by e-mailing us at speakout@foxnews.com.

Check out what FOX Fans are saying:

"The people of this country are contributing, as they always do in disasters like this, incredible amounts of money and goods to the victims of this tragedy. They are doing it voluntarily, which is as it should be. A government-mandated tax is not the answer." — Tucker (Atlanta, GA)

"The only way to pay for it is by the legislators giving up some of their pork, especially Alaska's bridge to nowhere. In Ohio we can wait a few more years to replace our long Central Viaduct Bridge. I also believe that most of the money, effort and resources should come from private entities. I cannot afford a new house and do not want to pay to allow someone else to get a free one! Maybe the feds could issue low interest money to private banks to then pass on the low interest money to those hurt by the storms. The government SHOULD NOT GUARANTEE THE LOANS!" — David

"Let people from the South and from 'Red States' pay for the reconstruction. As it is, the 'Blue States' in the Northeast pay more in taxes than they receive back in government services, while the Southern 'Red States' get far more from the government than they pay in. So much for the 'Red State' values of self-reliance and personal responsibility." — Scott

"Let's face it. The Senator's and Congress are not going to give up their 'pork' in the budgets to help someone else. My proposal is a one-percent national sales tax. That way, everyone (rich, poor, middle class, tourists) will pay for this disaster budget fiasco this country is heading for." — KRB

"Well the estimate to-date is around $200 billion dollars for hurricane recovery costs. That's the same amount the so-called war in Iraq has cost. If Bush hadn't lied to get us into a conflict, we would have more money and more resources (i.e. more National Guard). Thanks again Mr. Court-Appointed-President." — Sarah (New York, NY)

"I am of the opinion that this country can adjust the current budget to cover the expenses of disasters by addressing the fat in the current budget. It's time to tighten the programs that are not critical. I believe we are sufficiently taxed and should not increase taxes. Cut the domestic programs that are not critical and reduce our contributions to foreign interests." — Sal

No it is definitely not new tax time! The people who are voluntarily donating to relieve hurricane victims are average Americans. Contrary to popular political belief, Americans do not need to be shaken down to help others." — Ruth (Ewa Beach, HI)

"I think we should pay for hurricane costs by cutting money from the recent highway bill surely if each rep and senator gave up one project, there would be enough to pay this." — Kim (West Chester, PA)

"I think future generations are going to pay for the rebuilding of New Orleans and the continued war in Iraq. The Bush Administration only cares about having republicans reelected, they don't care about the future of America. At least when the Democrats spend money, they tax and spend. That's a whole lot better than the current system of borrow and spend. How does Bush think all this money America is borrowing is going to be repaid?" — Dan (Chicago, IL)

"When you build a coastal city below sea level and it is wiped out in a flood, are we supposed to be shocked? To use hundreds of billions of dollars (that we don't have) to build it up again seems irresponsible and, for lack of a better word, stupid. But maybe that's just me. Let's use our common sense! This can happen again regardless of how much money you waste to rebuild." — Joe (Houston, TX)

"I think that we should cut programs such as OSHA and the EPA. There aren’t very many manufacturing jobs left in the US, but OSHA has not been cut very much. The EPA is bloated and makes it difficult for businesses to operate. Finally, I think that we should put a “security” tax on imports to cover the costs of inspecting containers. Tax each incoming container $500. This would make imports cost more, which would make U.S. firms more competitive." — Randy (Springfield, VA)

"Insurance companies should be paying their share and maybe it's time we stop helping other counties out and take care of our own." — Lois (Kewanee, WS)

"I think the disaster relief and repair efforts should be funded by America, but I feel that reducing or eliminating some of the foreign aid we afford many other countries should be looked at as a possible source of a large portion of this money. The outrageous amount of money America sends to fund the United Nations along with reducing the number of armed forces in other countries where we are not wanted such as Korea and some of the European nations needs to be considered as a viable source of Katrina (and Rita) recovery funds for America." — Ed (Cartersville, GA)

"How to pay for Katrina rebuilding? Scrap the plans to go to the moon. Seems like we have enough people here on this planet that need help without going into outer space looking for ways to spend money. Consider the return on investment!" — P.J.

Why should the Gulf Coast be any different on expecting aid for reconstruction than any other part of the country? California is rebuilt from earthquakes, Florida is being rebuilt from other hurricanes, and the mid-west is rebuilt from tornadoes. I agree that there is plenty of funds available by redirecting some of the current budget, or payments to other countries, and that both the democrats and republicans cannot point fingers regarding fiscal irresponsibility. My main concern is that a new tax will be imposed on an already strained and slowing economy to pay for the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast region, and once the reconstruction is complete, the tax will not be repealed. There will always be something that has to be paid for, where the money and the associated mismanagement will always be prevalent. The additional burden on the taxpayer will always increase. It's like being a victim of a robbery, and asking the robber to take what they need for now and leave the rest, or return the excess later." — Rich

"Yes I believe the president's plan to cut taxes and still pay for Katrina will work." — Patrick

"Both Republicans and Democrats are responsible for the financial mess we are in. The national debt is over seven trillion! There's plenty of pork in the budget put there by both parties. The solution is to repeal the Bush tax cuts and leave Social Security and Medicare alone. Let someone with a brain and the power to be truly non-partisan go over the budget." — Anna

"There is probably more than $200 billion in the current budget that could be cut to help pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast. Is it time to bring back the idea of a line item veto for a president? Any tax increase would be counter-productive. History has shown that when taxes are cut revenue increases. Also, with higher energy costs and interest rates increasing, a tax increase would be a 'strike three' to any further economic growth." — Eric (Orlando, FL)

"In this time of national crisis, we should reduce government funded international aid by the amount needed to foot the bill. It makes no sense to continue full bore on a third floor project when there are large cracks in the foundation." — Randy (York, PA)

"I think that Halliburton and Dick Cheney should fit the bill! They've been allowed by the Bush administration to make enough profit over the death and destruction of Katrina, just like they have in Iraq." — Jim (San Diego, CA)

"I'm not worried about how we're going to pay for this. Either way a portion of it is going to come out of my pocket. I understand that and am okay with it. Here's an idea: how about making those Tyco exec's pay the money they owe to help foot the bill? Or better yet, why not donate Nagin's salary to help pay? That way he actually gets paid what he's worth!" — Aiven (Kansas City, MO)

"I think any funds that Cheney receives from his buddies at Halliburton should go into the pot for the Gulf Coast's recovery. It is so disgusting that not only does he get away with it, he and his cronies will just become richer while so many are in need. Tragic. If my town gets hit like New Orleans, I better not see a Halliburton person on my property." — Matthew (Galveston, TX)

"The Democrats need to decide who and what they are, and then try to take a stance. One minute they want to hand out money freely and the conservatives are the bad guys because they won't let them. THEN the next minute when money is being appropriated to help out mostly Democratic voters these bozo's suddenly want to make bad guys out of these same conservatives. What planet are these people from?" — Richard (Hand Plano, TX)

"We must expedite the tax cuts in order to maintain our current economic recovery and counteract the economic effect of the increase in gas prices. It is no more complicated than that." — John (Pensacola, FL)

"Halliburton should give back all the profits that they will make off of their NO-BID contracts that they secured through President Bush. It is disgusting that they profit off our nation's tragedy. It's what they do though. Look at Iraq. Even more Republican-friendly companies received no-bid contracts for the clean-up and rebuilding efforts. What about all of those in need of jobs? This is disgusting. But the Democrats are silent again. What is going on?" — Jen (Shelby, NC)

"Throwing money at the problem is what our government does. The ravaged areas need serious infrastructure rebuilding, so this time a lot of money really is needed. I don't see how that can be done, given the cost of the war, etc., without raising taxes. I'm not looking forward to it, but I think it's irresponsible, given the state of our economy now to try to trim money. I think cutting corners on projects and infrastructure will continue to come home to roost for this country and it's time we stop deceiving ourselves (and that politicians stop trying to deceive us) and face reality. We are spread perilously thin right now and to rebuild after a catastrophe of such magnitude means the tax coffer needs to be rattled." — Kelly

"I am sure there are ways to trim the budget. Everyone knows how the Senators love to spend our money for useless things: bridges that go no where, the study of some insignificant lizard or whatever the case may be. I'm getting pretty sick of the Democrats and I definitely don't want taxes to be raised. We pay enough as it is." — Pamela (San Antonio, TX)

"If ALL members of Congress would cut out the pork that is tucked into almost every conceivable piece of legislation that passes through the two legislative bodies, we'd be well on our way in rebuilding the Gulf Coast without cutting needed programs, raising taxes or deferring tax cuts. What are the chances of seeing that happen? Probably, about the same odds as seeing Congress ever taking a hard look at all its funding programs and paring the field to those that truly serve a national public need. We throw away billions and billions of dollars every year simply to sate political constituencies and assure the re-election of the idiots who represent us." — Phil (Rensselaer, NY)

"Democrats are always looking for ways to raise taxes and would love to use Katrina as an excuse. And once democrats manage to pass a tax increase they never let it go, we are stuck with it. Let’s support the president and take the Democrats’ hands out of our pockets." — Gerardo

"Congress, especially the Democrats, can not stomach reducing taxes. It's less largess for them in the future. The very idea that priorities can be realigned within existing budget centers in the government, and the money found (we all know the government is terribly inefficient), and reallocated to Katrina relief is worrisome to the Democrats. It's a type of fiscal conservatism they don't understand." — Shane (Mesa, AZ)

"The storm uncovered the cradle of paternalism in this country. There is not enough money in the entire Federal budget to maintain those people 'in the manner in which they are accustomed.' The solution is to investigate and expose what happened Federal Funds given to Louisiana over the past thirty years to PREVENT this disaster." — David (Winter Garden, FL)

"It's a fact: the Republicans will have to suck it up and actually make good on their claim to be compassionate conservatives! People have died and many lost everything. Wake-up! I can assure you that those of us who are in need will remember you on Election Day. Don't come saying you were there for us, when you only care about making yourselves richer." — Kate (Formerly of Louisiana, now in Georgia)

"I'd like to know how the Democrats would pay for the disaster — not just saying 'we have a PLAN on how to pay,' but giving us actual details on how they would pay for it." — Eve (St. Louis, MO)

If you would like to join other forums surrounding Hurricane Katrina, here are the latest links:

Hurricane Heroes — Click here to read and share stories of those who've helped others escape, tirelessly donated their time, or opened their home to those in need.

FOX Fan Firsthand — Click here to read one FOX Fan's inspirational story of giving.

FOX Fans Speak Out — Who's to blame? What went wrong? What's to be done? Click here to speak out on the Hurricane Katrina disaster.