The False Flag Of Fiscal Responibility

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I was reading Bruce Bartlett’s blog today concerning the government defaulting on the national debt, and a commenter left this remark:

Gingrich threatened debt default during the 1995 budget impasse. That gambit failed because everyone knew that the consequences would be so dire, there’s no way the GOP could have stayed united behind it.

But conservative commentators don’t remember anything (or at least assume, rightly, that their intended audiences don’t remember). Part of the problem is that the conservative movement is that, since 1994, they have lurched from one debacle to another: they blinked first on the budget debacle, they squandered an immense amount of political capital trying to impeach Bill Clinton, and then of course the epochal catastrophe that was the Bush presidency, especially from 2003-2006. So they keep having to find new voices that aren’t tainted by participation in, or endorsement of, the previous catastrophes.

BTW, that’s a large part of the point of the tea party movement, to be able to disclaim what nearly all of them voted for. The perception is that they are a bunch of sore losers unwilling to accept an unfriendly election result, and that’s true as far as it goes. But equally it’s about distancing themselves from the Bush years, which (since, again, they all voted for him) is even more illegitimate than not accepting the 2008 outcome.


Fiscal responsibility has always been one of my overriding political issues when voting. I went for Bush in 2000 mainly for one reason – he was endorsing the abolition of base-line budgeting. OK, two reasons….  he wasn’t Al Gore!  🙂 But the budget was the first priority.

Let me be clear upfront that I never bought the “ten year surplus” meme. There is no such thing as a “ten year surplus”, precisely because you don’t know and can’t  predict what financial pressures will come to be in the future. There is only a surplus for that one current fiscal year. Al Gore was campaigning on the promise that the government was going to spend that extra money to fix social security.  I didn’t buy that either. Returning the money to its rightful owner – us – was the proper move. Though there may be instances where I recognize the necessity of it,  I’m not a fan of fixing your governing mistakes on my dime, thank you very much. One reason is that those fixes are always temporary if you don’t fix the structural reason for the deficit. See the sad state of California for a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

But I digress.  This is a topic of a separate blogpost. Back on point.

It became clear early on that the Bush administration was not going to make any effort what-so-ever to address that issue, and instead showed themselves to be more of the same as usual type administration as far as spending is concerned. I didn’t vote for either Bush or Kerry in 2004, and I was so ticked at the economic stupidity on display for the 2008 choices, I wrote in Paris Hilton for President. I figured it couldn’t have been much worse.

You would think I would be a prime candidate for the Tea Party recruiters…. Nope.

I liked the idea, but it quickly became obvious that the weakened Republican party was laying the groundwork for massive infiltration. Running on the ideal of “smaller government” and “less taxes” is fine, but my question is always this: “What are you going to cut?”.

I usually get a response such as: “Well, entitlements are a huge reason why we’re going broke!”

“OK. So how much of the medicare and social security benefits are you going to cut?”.

“Well, we won’t know until we have our guys in office”.

Note that’s not really an answer, and I know I won’t get one. So I go to a different topic – George W Bush. He is universally derided for he spending policies. So I pose this question: “We both know that Bush spent way too much and was a “big government” President. Which of the Bush big government add-ons are you proposing we cut? Medicare-D? No Child Left Behind? Department of Homeland Security?”

I never get an answer.

The fact that the Republicans scored political points against ObamaCare by opposing cuts in medicare is all you need to know about how serious they are about reducing spending.