Thursday, May 05, 2005

Big Government and Judicial Activism

No, I'm not talking about the Democrats. This is how conservativism has changed while in power. Here's a portion of an article in Slate reviewing these changes:

Ten years ago, conservatives defined themselves in large measure by their belief in less government. Many still view themselves that way, but the self-conception no longer has anything to do with reality. A recent Cato Institute study points out that for the 101 biggest programs that the Contract With America Republicans proposed to eliminate as unnecessary in 1995, spending has now risen 27 percent under a continuously Republican Congress. Likewise, the conservative notion of deregulation has been supplanted by a demand for moralistic regulation, while the demand for judicial restraint has been replaced by pressure for right-wing judicial activism.

Following is the Executive Summary of the Cato Institute Study referred to above:

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.

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


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