Many of us remember President Bill Clinton saying in 1996, "The era of big government is over." Of course, that statement was made on the heels of the famous congressional elections of 1994 when a hearty band of 73 freshman Republicans swept into the House of Representatives promising to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. On the strength of that stunning election victory, they pushed through a budget resolution that called for the elimination of scores of federal programs and up to 5 federal departments.
However, it is now time to set the record straight: the era of big government is back! Not only has the Republican Party not decreased the size and scope of the federal government, it has exploded the growth of government to unprecedented levels!
According to The Cato Institute, overall federal spending has increased twice as fast under George W. Bush as under Bill Clinton! And no one today even bothers to whisper about cutting any federal departments. On the contrary, President Bush's budgets even increase expenditures for nefarious organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Legal Services Corporation.
According to the Heritage Foundation, government spending per household, which had held steady through the nineties at around $18,000, has, under President Bush, exceeded $20,000, adjusted for inflation. This is the highest level since World War II.
Another indication of the Republican Party's uncontrollable appetite for federal spending is easily seen in the way it has dealt with funding for education. Where once the party called for the elimination of the federal Department of Education, federal spending for the Department of Education has grown 40% under President Bush.
In fact, George W. Bush's proposed $2.57 trillion budget increases spending 38% from what the federal government was spending when Bush became president. His budget also increases spending 3.6% over last year's budget.
Also noteworthy is the fact that President Bush is the first president since John Quincy Adams to serve a full term and not veto a single spending bill. In fact, not only has Bush not vetoed a single federal expenditure, the only bill he threatened to veto was a spending decrease. I'm referring to Bush's "no changes" promise to his prescription drug entitlement that, according to George Will, "has an unfunded liability twice as large as the entire Social Security deficit."
Democrats must be green with envy at the ability of the Republican Party to explode the growth of the federal government and still bask in the reputation as a "conservative" party. The truth is, however, there is no conservative party in Washington, D.C., today. Both parties are intoxicated with an insatiable thirst for unrestricted federal spending!
Furthermore, this trend seems unlikely to change in the near future. A majority of voters appears content to allow their government to spend tax dollars like drunken sailors as long as they enjoy (real or imagined) federal benefits.
However, for the sake of intellectual honesty, it would be nice if today's professing conservatives would be willing to face the fact that by supporting President Bush and the current crop of Republican leaders, they are merely giving aid and comfort to run of the mill, big-spending liberals. With apologies to Shakespeare, "a skunk by any other name smells as raunchy."
© Chuck Baldwin
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