How much do U.S. taxpayers owe Louisiana? Surely not the whole $250 billion that the state now wants. Congress needs to stand up for fiscal sanity.

Call us cheap or churlish, but our sympathy for the Pelican State’s political leaders is starting to fade. Louisiana has been ravaged by two hurricanes, much of its largest city is in ruins and huge numbers of its people are without homes. All true.

But if America’s spirit of compassion has no limits, its public purse does. The federal government is rightly helping Louisiana clean up, rebuild and guard against future catastrophes.

But it’s not obliged to hand over hundreds of billions in aid with no questions asked. . . .

Congress already has approved $62.3 billion in Katrina aid for the Gulf Coast and will no doubt have to allocate several billion more to cover damage from Hurricane Rita. So even by the standards of post-Katrina politics, Louisiana is starting to look a tad greedy.

Very few will come forward to make such an observation at this point. But more should, and Congress needs to muster up the courage, for once, to fulfill its obligations to American taxpayers.

Actually, a lot of people seem willing to make that observation, which is a testament to the extent of the Louisiana pols’ overreaching. Indeed, I think we’ll see a real — and much-needed — debate on whether to fund the rebuilding of New Orleans, beyond the port, at all.

UPDATE: Nick Gillespie urges politeness.