Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Party of "BIG-government Conservatism".

When I look at this mid-term election campaign, there is one thing that really troubles. It is not the negative ads – we’ve seen that before, it is rather how much the Republican politicians use some old tricks to fight the Democrats, lied, transform reality and think they can get away with it.

A good example is what President Bush said yesterday:

President George W. Bush warned on Saturday Democrats would raise taxes if they win control of Congress in Tuesday's elections. (Reuters)

And why is that? Well, maybe because:

In President Bush’s first 5 years federal spending has increased by 3.1% annually, the most ever done since Lyndon Johnson. Under Mr Clinton, the number of federal employees shrank by 200,000 (excluding the armed forces and postal service). Under Mr Bush, it rose by 79,000. (The Economist)

Granted, you may think the circumstances are different. This is after all a post-9/11 world, but still. Most of the spending has to do with things other than the “war on terror”, especially since we all know that the war in Iraq has actually nothing to do with 9/11.

Let’s take to examples developed by The Economist this week:

  • first there is Medicare Part D for the elderly which has been criticized for being not only confusing but also not so efficient ( it covers the first $2,250 of drug spending and anything over $5,100, but leaves a “doughnut hole” in the middle). As The Economist puts it:

It will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion over the first ten years—making it the biggest expansion of the welfare state since Mr Bush was dancing the Alligator at Yale.

  • the second illustration is not just the corruption we have seen lately but the legal American tradition of pork barrel also called “earmarking”) which basically consists in “government funding of something that benefits a particular district, whose legislator thereby wins favor with local voters.” It is no less than legal bribe. And even if Democrat-controlled Congresses largely used this system, it has taken a whole new dimension under Republican leadership:

According to Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog group, the number of porky earmarks has exploded under Republican rule, from 1,439 in 1995 to 13,997 last year.

The party of “free-trade” has also given a large package of subsidies to farmers in 2002 which was signed by Mr Bush. [And the same year, he imposed tariffs on imported steel.]

Now how is that spending financed? Not be taxes for sure but by borrowing more and more money. As a result:

....the past six years have seen a $236 billion surplus transmogrified into a nearly equal and opposite deficit, with the prospect of much bigger deficits to come.

Who cares, it's only our children who will pay for it.... and bush will be long gone. Then his party will certainly seize the opportunity to accuse the Democrats of bad management. So the hypocrisy of this president when he accuses the Democrats of raising taxes is beyond belief.

It should be the dismay of true conservatives to see that the party of “small government’ is now the party of “big-government conservatism”.

By the way, I "borrowed" this cartoon from The Economist. I just think it says it all:

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