Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Era of Big Government is Back--Under George Bush

Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government is over. The LA Times reviewed how George Bush has brought it back:
Even as President Bush proposes significant cuts in healthcare, farm subsidies and other domestic programs, his new budget makes one thing clear about the legacy of his first term in the White House: The era of big government is back.

Bush's $2.57-trillion budget for 2006, if approved by Congress, would be more than a third bigger than the 2001 budget he inherited four years ago. It is a monument to how much Republicans' guiding fiscal philosophy has changed over the 10 years since the GOP's Contract With America called for a balanced budget and abolition of entire Cabinet agencies.

No longer are Republicans arguing with Democrats about whether government should be big or small. Instead, they are at odds over what kind of big government the U.S. should have.
Clinton left office with a surplus. Kerry ran advocating a" pay as you go" policy. The likely incoming chair of the DNC, Howard Dean, also defines himself as a fiscal conservative. In contrast, it was George Bush who brought back deficit spending:
Republicans' commitment to eliminating the deficit, a cornerstone of the Contract With America, also seems a thing of the past. Party members now argue that the deficit — although it is a record in absolute numbers — is manageable because, when measured as a share of the economy, it is not as large as Reagan's 1983 deficit.

But Stanley E. Collender, a budget analyst with Financial Dynamics, a business communications firm in Washington, said that amounted to "using the budget failure of one Republican to make the large deficits of another appear to be less troubling.

"President Bush would never admit this, but he has transformed the party into the party of permanent big deficits," he said.
This provides two opportunities for Democrats. First, the deficit presents an opportunity to place a wedge between those who traditionally supported Republicans but do not yet realize that the current coalition of neoconservatives and the religious right which now dominates the GOP no longer represents traditional Republican values.

Secondly, this provides Democrats a chance to define their beliefs on the role of government in society, rather than allowing the Republicans to simply claim to be the party in opposition to big governemnt and defining the Democrats as the party of big government. The second point is one I plan to address further in the near future.


Blogger Bob Evans said...

Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government

Some Conservatives Express Concern at Agenda
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 9, 2005; Page A01

President Bush's second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of Americans by imposing new national restrictions on high schools, court cases and marriages.

In a clear break from Republican campaigns of the 1990s to downsize government and devolve power to the states, Bush is fostering what amounts to an era of new federalism in which the national government shapes, not shrinks, programs and institutions to comport with various conservative ideals, according to Republicans inside and outside the White House.

Bush is calling for new federal accountability and testing requirements for all public high schools, after imposing similar mandates on grades three through eight during his first term. To limit lawsuits against businesses and professionals, he is proposing to put a federal cap on damage awards for medical malpractice, to force class-action cases into federal courts and to help create a national settlement of outstanding asbestos-related cases.

On social policy, the president is pushing a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in the states and continuing to define and expand the federal government's role in encouraging religious groups to help administer social programs such as community drug-rehabilitation efforts.


11:18 PM  

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