Saturday, April 08, 2006

Fiscal Conservatives: Rejoice

I'm closely related to a self-avowed "fiscal conservative". He, and all fiscal conservatives, should rejoice at the news that Tom DeLay is leaving Congress. I wonder if he will?

As House majority leader, Mr. DeLay was a master of pork barrel politics. Incongruous though the image may be, the largess he lavished to secure political power would make a tax-and-spend liberal blush at the excess. This is no exaggeration. Congressional earmarks, one measure of pork barrel spending, have reached stratospheric highs under Tom DeLay's Republican Congress.

The current fiscal climate suggests that it will be increasingly difficult to paint Democrats with that decades old pejorative so favored by Republicans when they were on the outside looking in. Tax and spend? At least the Democrats were honest enough to admit we have to pay for government spending. The tax-cut-and-spend crew now in power seems happy to put it all on the national credit card.

Fiscal conservatives have for some time been coming round to the dismal realization that Republican control of the White House and the Congress hasn't quite worked out the way they expected. Their naive presumption that the American public would accept a vastly smaller government was always suspect. But could they have foreseen such a profound threat to their programme coming from inside the Republican tent?

Tom DeLay may be a "conservative", but a "fiscal conservative" he surely is not. Cohabitating within the Republican party are several kinds of conservative, and they're not always compatible. In fact, it's amazing that they hold together as well as they do. The "social conservative" DeLay had no compunction about big government, so long as it was Republican big government.

Of course, the premise of this piece is false. Tom DeLay's power and influence had already evaporated since his indictment on money laundering charges, and his subsequent resignation as majority leader. His resignation from Congress will have little more than symbolic effect. My call for fiscal conservatives to rejoice is mostly gratuitous poking at the bear. But it's something I have to occasionally do.

Copyright (C) 2006 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved


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