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Mr. Bush's plan: Words & deeds ...

| Sunday, Sept. 18, 2005

President Bush did what he had to do Thursday night in New Orleans. He offered soothing words, showed leadership by falling on the homeland defense sword and offered an ambitious plan to help rebuild the Gulf Coast.

And while we might quibble with some of the details, we applaud the president.

The federal government will take the lead in rebuilding hurricane-devastated public infrastructure -- roads, bridges, schools and water and sewage systems. And we are heartened by Mr. Bush's fealty to strict oversight to combat fraud.

Laudable, too, is the president's commitment to state and local control "in planning for their own future." Critical, though, is the proviso of better building standards and zoning rules to avoid repeating the insanity exploited by Hurricane Katrina.

But the most important part of the president's recovery plan will be the most difficult: tackling the region's deeply entrenched poverty. This nation must finally admit that it is the mind-set of entitlement -- the welfare state -- that exacerbated Gulf Coast poverty. To that end, Mr. Bush offers a boot-strap approach.

There will be incentives for job-creating business investment in the region, grants for education and job-training and greatly expanded opportunities for home ownership. The hands-up approach always is preferable to handouts. The trick will be to prevent the former from devolving into the latter.

"To mean well is nothing without to do well," wrote Roman essayist Titus Plautus; intentions are one thing but execution will be everything.

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