Saturday, September 06, 2003

The paleocons are getting restless ...

"Had there been any doubts about the direction the Republican Party is headed, they vanished last week when Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie visited New Hampshire.

During a cheerful and pleasant meeting (that’s the kind of guy Gillespie is) at The Union Leader offices, the party’s new chairman, energetic and full of vigor, said in no uncertain terms that the days of Reaganesque Republican railings against the expansion of federal government are over.

No longer does the Republican Party stand for shrinking the federal government, for scaling back its encroachment into the lives of Americans, or for carrying the banner of federalism into the political battles of the day.

No, today the Republican Party stands for giving the American people whatever the latest polls say they want. The people want the federal government to tell states how to run local schools? Then that’s what the Republican Party wants, too. The people want expanded entitlement programs and a federal government that attends to their every desire, no matter how frivolous? Then that’s what the Republican Party wants, too.

The party’s unofficial but clear message to conservatives is: Where else are you going to go? To the Democrats? To the Libertarians? They don’t think so. "

"In three years, Bush has managed to wreak so much havoc with the nation's finances it's very hard to see who could do worse. In his first three years, you have an increase in domestic discretionary spending of 20.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 0.7 percent for Bill Clinton. If a Democrat had this record, do you think Republicans would let him off the hook? Here's Tom DeLay in 1995: "By the year 2002, we can have a federal government with a balanced budget or we can continue down the present path towards total fiscal catastrophe." If Clintonomics was a "fiscal catastrophe," what would an intellectually honest DeLay say about Bush? (I know an intellectually honest Tom DeLay is a bit of magical realism, but bear with me.) We don't just have big tax cuts; we have a big leap in discretionary spending, huge hikes in agricultural subsidies, no reform of corporate welfare, a huge new entitlement for prescription drugs, big jumps in the number of people employed indirectly by Uncle Sam, and on and on. Looking ahead, the future looks even worse - and that's even before we try and tackle the entitlement crunch of the boomer retirement. The GOP has to be punished for this. They run the Congress; and they're now officially worse than Democrats at keeping government solvent or small. Clinton was way, way better. Honest conservatives know this. Dishonest partisans look the other way."

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