Skip to comments.Conservatives also buy big government
Posted on 08/19/2003 2:26:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Somewhere between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, conservatives may have lost the battle against big government.
Oddly enough, as the partisan differences grow sharper, the practical differences between the two major parties grows fuzzier, at least on domestic issues. Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, describes Bush as a "big-government conservative."
The president has shown no discomfort with big government or increasing federal spending. In his first two years in office, Bush increased spending on schools by 40 percent. He's proposed a prescription drug benefit for Medicare that will cost $400 billion over 10 years. On both education and prescription drugs, Bush's top Democratic ally has been the icon of congressional liberalism, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).
While they acknowledge the reality of big government, Bush and Kennedy veer sharply from a common start. The No Child Left Behind Act is a good example. Some background:
Public schools are a responsibility of state and local government. The federal government contributes only about 7 cents on the dollar. It has concentrated its efforts on the heavy-burden exceptions: special education, the poor, and aid to local systems disproportionately affected by military bases. The point is that the federal government has rightly deferred to states and to local school boards to drive education.
Since 1965, the federal government has spent more than $120 billion on schools serving the poor with little to show for it. Bush, in seeking reauthorization two years ago, agreed to increase spending by 11.5 percent, including $9.1 billion for poor schools, a sum that is up to $12.3 billion in the 2004 budget, the most federal dollars ever.
Kennedy, who welcomed the spending, sees No Child Left Behind as a massive new infusion of federal money. He wants more. "Reform without resources is just hollow talk," he said. "The president's proposal may provide the money to test our children, but not enough to teach them."
Kennedy, starting with big government, finishes with bigger government. Bush, starting with big government, finishes with a distinctly different government -- not smaller, but decentralized.
Bush's education secretary, Rod Paige, argued that accountability requirements would provide essential information to parents, leading them to demand alternatives. Conservatives saw it as more unwarranted federal spending and without reforms, such as vouchers, dropped at Kennedy's behest.
Two years later, it's obvious that Paige was right. The federal government, taking a page from the liberals' book, has become the driving force in pushing states to embrace choice and to give parents more freedom in where they send their children. The direction is set, and No Child Left Behind has done it.
Americans have grown comfortable with big government, a legacy of the 1960s. As a culture, we have bought into the notion that adults can be as irresponsible as they choose in lifestyle decisions and government will construct a safety net to catch their consequences. In some cases, it's not irresponsibility; it is that adults have changed behaviors to conform to government incentives. In Georgia, for example, 73 percent of undergraduate students receive state grants, giving parents incentives to spend the money their parents saved for the children's college. Government has built a dependency and, since 25 percent of the nation's taxpayers pay 84 percent of the cost of government, there's no incentive to go back.
Bush grows government, but activates it for conservative ends, just as the Great Society programs of the 1960s did for liberals. Roles now are reversed. Conservatives push for change; liberals defend the status quo.
Liberals scoff at programs such as those promoting marriage or encouraging teen abstinence as foolish conservative activism by government. Maybe. But when was the last time you saw somebody smoking on television? No one thing works. But if liberal activism used government as a vehicle to drive society in one direction, conservative activism can use it to take society in another.
Jim Wooten is associate editorial page editor. His column appears Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
It is in this respect that Bush offends 'true' conservatives -- those that believe the Constitution limits federal reach (and not that "general welfare" means that most of the people are on welfare).
We should distinguish Bush Republicans (those that like big government) from conservatives (those that don't).
***Bush's education secretary, Rod Paige, argued that accountability requirements would provide essential information to parents, leading them to demand alternatives. Conservatives saw it as more unwarranted federal spending and without reforms, such as vouchers, dropped at Kennedy's behest. ***
We get the goverment we ask for.
Or it could be titled "turning the beast on itself."
Typical Urinal/Constipation editorial. It starts with a lie and goes from there. NO, CONSERVATIVES are not into more government. Republicans are. Republicans are not conservatives. Wooten deliberately uses the word conservative to describe leftist republicans thus denying the existence of true conservatives - something that the dedicated Marxists on the editorial board of the U/C would like to see totally go away. In the "minds" of the editorial board of the Atlanta fish wrapper there can never be too many laws, taxes on the hard working can never be too high, there can never be too many restrictions on the 2nd through 10th amendments, and government can never be too big.
But he looks so good in a flight suit.
This is a lame, limp, weak attempt to somehow describe Bush as conservative, no more convincing than the flight suit argument.
You have to be smarter than lying LIBERALS to turn the tide of me-me-itis.
Not by any evidence that I've seen. He might possibly think he is one, but at best he's probably a liberal Republican. The truth remains that conservatives have NOT by any means embraced big government - it's the republicans who've done this
He has changed the debate from Reagan's 'government is not the solution......' to the idea the more powerful, more expensive, more intrusive government is a good thing.
Bush is dealing with the here and now. So much of our infrastructure and national defenses had been left to rot (including education}. He's doing what he needs to do to turn things around and in stay in office to accomplish something with a citizenry that has grown "needy." You work with what you have to get where you want to go.
The idea that it is a good thing to make the government bigger, more powerful, more intrusive, more expensive is a bad one.
You work with what you have to get where you want to go.
And Bush wants to go where..........? The answer is obvious by his words and his deeds. And it is not pretty, even if he is, and he has the (R) after his name and he's a nice guy.
There is so much wrong with this I hardly know where to begin. Let's start with edjekayshun.
Before dismal Jimmy, education wasn't a cabinet level office, yet oddly enough Americans were better educated coming out of high school than they are today, and constant dollar spending of education was less than today. This indicates that maybe the federal government's endless rules and PC treatment of education is probably making children
dumber more ignorant than 30 years ago.
The fact of the matter is that not everyone is created equal. Some are smart. Some are dumb as dirt. When you educate everyone on the convoy system (ie hold the pace to the slowest) then everyone is held to the level of the dumbest kid in the class. Ability grouping - something that was standard practice 50 years ago is spoken of now in the same light as incest and pedophilia. Mustn't hurt the feeling of the dumbasses after all they have to feel that they're as good as anyone else.
The citizenry hasn't grown "needy." Need is now and always has been infinite. You can NEVER fill the "needs" of everyone from the public coffers, because as soon as you squander some largess on the "needy" then they immediately "need" something else. The only way to do this is to force the irresponsible a$$holes to work for a living.
Government bureaucrats have a strong vested interest in expanding government. The bigger the government the more money it steals from honest people and spends on itself. For some strange reason, the media, especially lying $hit filled rags like the Urinal/Constipation have become willing cheerleaders for ever bigger government. The media is in bed with the bureaucrats, and the only place to get the truth is the alternative media like Free Republic.
Saying Jim Wooten is a conservative is like saying George Bush is a conservative. It just ain't so. There hasn't been a true conservative thought expressed at the Urinal in the last 40 years.
The article, your remarks, and Wooten's position all speak for themselves. The only misrepresentation is yours.