T Nation

Grand Old (Spending) Party

That’s the title of this recent report by the Cato Foundation, and I really think it hits home for some of us fiscal conservatives who are dismayed to see how the former limited-government GOP congressmen have been lining up at the trough ever since the political demise of Mr. Gingrich. And President Bush has not, thus far, used any political capital to attempt to rein things in – in fact, he increased spending on social programs more than Clinton did (though in fairness a lot of that was an economic response to a downturn in the economy – but it hasn’t been pared back).

Here’s the report:

http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=3750

And here’s the executive summary:

Executive Summary

President Bush has presided over the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted federal spending since Lyndon B. Johnson. Even after excluding spending on defense and homeland security, Bush is still the biggest-spending president in 30 years. His 2006 budget doesn?t cut enough spending to change his place in history, either.

Total government spending grew by 33 percent during Bush?s first term. The federal budget as a share of the economy grew from 18.5 percent of GDP on Clinton?s last day in office to 20.3 percent by the end of Bush?s first term.

The Republican Congress has enthusiastically assisted the budget bloat. Inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs they vowed to eliminate in 1995 has grown by 27 percent.

The GOP was once effective at controlling nondefense spending. The final nondefense budgets under Clinton were a combined $57 billion smaller than what he proposed from 1996 to 2001. Under Bush, Congress passed budgets that spent a total of $91 billion more than the president requested for domestic programs. Bush signed every one of those bills during his first term. Even if Congress passes Bush?s new budget exactly as proposed, not a single cabinet-level agency will be smaller than when Bush assumed office.

Republicans could reform the budget rules that stack the deck in favor of more spending. Unfortunately, senior House Republicans are fighting the changes. The GOP establishment in Washington today has become a defender of big government.


The problem is that the Democrats are worse, and despite what Al seems to think, the Libertarian Party is both not a viable alternative and home to a few too many uncompromising zealots to ever become one (and the rest of the party only cares about drug legalization). What’s a small-government conservative to do?

Boston,

Yep, good read, and it is going to be very interesting to see how the elections of 2006 play out.

The GOP has no constraints - internal or external. Internally, the GOP are gobbling up pork, lavishing government spending on any comers, just like the worst stereotype of a politician. Externally, the Democrats are as weak as I can remember.

As much as I think the GOP has emerged as the majority party, I think the elections of 2006 could have a big surprise in store if Republicans don’t get their wayward fiscal recklessness under control.

Part of this possible 2006 letdown assumes the Democrats can sell a plausible alternative, and considering the left-wing of the party - the one in control - wants a European style welfare state, they may not be able to take advantage of it.

All we need is another crisis or credible threat, because in such a scenario spending is easily justified…

This is why we need the Dems to marginalize much of the far left wing of the party. Maybe then they can gain a few seats by appealing a broader section of the electorate.

I am not comfortable with one party having too much control.