By now, everyone knows that Bush has been a big spender, betraying the principles of small-government conservatism.
Except it’s not true.
It’s not the main point of this piece by Floyd Norris, but mentioned in passing:
[INDENT]Within the public sector, state and local governments are spending at the fastest pace in three decades, and federal military spending is also up. But federal spending on everything but the military is at its lowest level, as a percentage of the economy, in six years.
[/INDENT] Now, he’s actually referring only to discretionary spending; entitlements spending is up. But there have been many, many claims that discretionary spending is up, too; they all depend on deliberately conflating military spending with civilian spending. Basically, critics pretend that the cost of the Iraq war makes Bush a big-spending liberal.
So I guess Bush as the big-spending non-conservative betrayer comes down to the Medicare drug benefit, most of which is a giveaway to insurance companies.
Conservatives have been working on rationalizations to call Bush “not a real conservative” for about a year now. One of the more often ones is how he’s a conservative-betraying big spender, rather than being for small government - earmarks, Medicare benefit, etc.
On government spending as a percentage of GDP basis, Bush basically hasn’t changed a thing, except in the military - which only Dennis Kuchinich talks about cutting, not conservatives - and the Medicare drug benefit, which is its own special debacle.
I once thought that conservatives cared about preserving the nature of our current government and legal system, but I can see now that all that they want is everything in their own interest. So if they change the government to disband the executive and judicial branches and give all power to the president (Bush’s wet dream) they wouldn’t even care, so long as you ban gay marriage, lower capital gains tax, keep carbon caps off the table forever, reverse all the decisions that protect contradictory teachings to the bible, etc, etc.
Whether Bush is or isn’t a “big-spender” is kind of irrelevant. The fact that he’s a self-righteous, morally bankrupt Musselini-protege should be more relevant.
Hmm. Time for some googling, because I think this is wrong. I do recall back in 2003 or 4, conservatives were screaming because they were trying to roll back a number of agricultural subsidies, many of which were going to the rich such as the sugar barons, and Bush signed a $250 Billion dollar subsidy bill that they had hoped/expected would go the other direction.
That’s actually an interesting question: how does a “true” fiscal conservative think we should pay for wars (presuming they support a war in the first place)? I.e., raise taxes, cut spending in other areas, sell war bonds - what?
Normally my money would be on “cut spending,” but I’m a little hazy on how fiscal conservatives approach big one-off expenses like wars, as opposed to funding ongoing social programs et al.
Not sure why you think the snarky “conservatives trying to disavow Bush” now is warranted. First off, you know, you may want to actually embrace, rather than reject, the whole people other than your own worldview rejecting Bush thing, unless you want to put as step 1 of achieving anything politically “everyone has to agree with me on everything” (note: this only works for Karl Rove). I know personally I am far more likely to vote for Obama or Clinton than literally anyone the Republicans are putting forward this year - they’re earning their forthcoming years in the wilderness. Maybe some sanity will then ensue.
Second, Bush isn’t a “real conservative” by any definition. He’s certainly not a fiscal conservative, no matter how hard his partisans might try to gerrymander economic data. Simply put, under his watch taxation has been reduced and budgets have been increased. Not surprisingly, this leads to deficit spending, something true fiscal conservatives aren’t fans of (with good reason). The fact that the most fiscally conservative administration in the past 30 years has been the Clinton administration is funny, sad, and true.
Constitutional conservatives are revolted by his situational redefinition of, well, government in general. Social conservatives feel slighted that he only pays attention to evangelical issues in election years. Basically the only “conservative” values his administration supports is neoconservative crusading, and that doesn’t seem to be working out too well.
How many conservatives were saying what Lum is saying now when he was popular? Between 9/12 through perhaps mid 2006 (Katrina got the ball moving in 2005 though), Bush was the Brave ChurchillianWarrior, laying the groundwork for the Permanent Republican Majority. I know there have been some books, like Impostor by Bruce Bartlett, which said what you say, but jeez, it sure seemed like conservatives loved the guy when he was on top.
The point about “Bush really is a conservative, sorry” is that the specific brand of politics everyone out there calls “conservative” right now - as defined by Reagan, Grover Norquist, Newt Gingrich, and Bush - results in shit like Katrina, the Iraq War, corruption, and talking about small government while you actually run up debt and funnel government money to huge corporations.
If conservatives want to blow up conservatism and come up with a sane definition of it, they’re welcome to. My point is that there’s a straight line from Reagan to Bush.
The thing about “real definitions” - fiscal conservative, conservative in general - is that by the supposed definition, there hasn’t been a real fiscal conservative in GOP power since, uh, Eisenhower? It’d be like if Democrats hadn’t tried to increase the minimum wage for 50 years. This is actual conservatism, apparently.
It probably doesn’t bother libertarians too much, but actual conservatives have a bit of a problem on their hands.
You mean like if Democrats hadn’t instituted primary health care, a global minimum income, enacted racial/sexual equality, ended global warming, or ended the war in Iraq? Because I’d hate to see the state of the Democratic Party if they hadn’t done all that. I bet their base would be pissed.
The era of declining democratic power 1968 to today isn’t the right time frame for comparision; the era of ascending democratic power would be. It’d be as if the New Deal era 1932-1968 didn’t deliver anything “liberal.” The GOP was half running things in the 1980s, almost running everything in the 1990s, and fully running everything in the 2000s, yet did nothing particularly “fiscally conservative” in that time period.
On the specific line items, I’ve never even heard of a global minimum income, they’re made enormous gains on racial and sexual equality, up until at least the late 1970s when the Republicans basically took power, global warming is a brand new issue, the war in Iraq is a brand new issue - it’s a terrible list for comparison.
Of that list, health care is the only long-term issue they haven’t gotten passed; Truman was the first failed attempt. They did manage to get shaved down versions for the elderly and the poor through in the 1960s, however.
The explanation is pretty simple. People don’t actually want to get rid of Social Security or Medicare, and since that’s virtually all of the federal government’s non-military spending, the GOP basically has to commit suicide once elected to deliver on their ideological promises. That’s why they’ve come to rely more and more on the Christian base - identity politics only requires the right amount of showboating, not cutting popular government programs.
All the ones that aren’t incredibly popular with the broad public, a well-connected rich interest group, or look absolutely terrible to eliminate are gone or gutted, but they don’t add up to very much money.
If you’re going to say the Republicans “almost ran everything” in the 1990s, you must believe the Democrats “almost run everything” today, since the situation is exactly reversed (executive branch countered by an insurgent legislature controlled by the opposing party). Somehow it doesn’t seem to work out that way.
Anyway, my point (which seemed to whiz over your head, maybe I should use less humor) is that no party, Republican or Democrat, acts as the fulfillment of their supporters’ desires. I seem to remember a lot of rage at Clinton from the left for abandoning most of the Democratic core principles (ending with Howard Dean proclaming himself the leader of “the Democrat wing of the Democratic Party” in 2000). That rage isn’t manifesting on the right mainly because the conservative movement today is essentially destroyed from infighting and failure - the various wings (social conservative, fiscal conservative, libertarian and neo-conservative) should probably be opposing parties, they have so little in common any more. Social conservatives and libertarians specificially are the direct opposite of each other.
It doesn’t help that the political system in general encourages corruption and the status quo - whether Democrat or Republican, eventually government devolves to service itself and its self-perpetuating bureaucracy and special interest welfare groups. Right now, the only voices against this are from the left, but a few years out of power (and the inevitable abuses by a Democratic administration once in power) should help regenerate the conservative movement in general. Right now the conservatives are literally coopted by the corruption of power. There are few core principles save “more stuff for my guys, less stuff for your guys” - the almost literal definition of corruption. The only fix for this is a new generation of conservative leadership that isn’t corrupted by the sweet allure of government pork and lobbyist cash.
Or, alternatively, they could just keep hating the Clintons, I suppose.
Well duh. When you do 2 things: a) You enact the largest new entitlement since the Great Society and b) you enact a huge new federal education program then everything else doesn’t matter. Discretionary spending is pretty much peanuts compared to NCLB and the prescription drug bill. That’s a hugely expensenive, unpaid for program. You can’t say “well, he’s good on everything else”.
Republicans weren’t literally in control of the entire federal government in the 1990s, now. They did have Congress, however, and Republicans defined the agenda. Clinton famously had to go way to the right to compensate. It’s like when Eisenhower was president; the Democrats were still setting the agenda.
The thing I guess I’m not getting across is that “conservatives” when governing rarely, if ever, accomplish “conservative” goals, in a way I really don’t see paralleled on the left. Where is the conservative ideological equivalent of Social Security? I don’t think deficit-financed tax cuts count.