Skip to comments.Andrew Sullivan: Is Bush a socialist? He's spending like one
Posted on 09/25/2005 10:56:29 AM PDT by Uncle Joe Cannon
September 25, 2005
The Sunday Times
Andrew Sullivan: Is Bush a socialist? He's spending like one
Finally, finally, finally. A few years back, your correspondent noticed something a little odd about George W Bushs conservatism. If you take Margaret Thatchers dictum that a socialist is someone who is very good at spending other peoples money, then President Bush is, er, a socialist.
Sure, he has cut taxes, a not-too-difficult feat when your own party controls both houses of Congress. But spending? You really have to rub your eyes, smack yourself on the forehead and pour yourself a large gin and tonic. The man cant help himself.
The first excuse was the war. After 9/11 and a wobbly world economy, that was a decent excuse. Nobody doubted that the United States needed to spend money to beef up homeland security, avert deflation, overhaul national preparedness for a disaster, and fight a war on terror. But when Katrina revealed that, after pouring money into both homeland security and Louisianas infrastructure, there was still no co-ordinated plan to deal with catastrophe, a few foreheads furrowed.
Then there was the big increase in agricultural subsidies. Then the explosion in pork barrel spending. Then the biggest new entitlement since Lyndon Johnson, the Medicare drug benefit. Then a trip to Mars. When you add it all up, you get the simple, devastating fact that Bush, in a mere five years, has added $1.5 trillion to the national debt. The interest on that debt will soon add up to the cost of two Katrinas a year.
Remember when conservatism meant fiscal responsibility? In a few years, few people will be able to. I used to write sentences that began with the phrase: Not since Lyndon Johnsons Great Society spending binge. . . I cant write that any more. Johnson the guns and butter president of liberalisms high-water mark was actually more fiscally conservative than the current inhabitant of the White House. LBJ boosted domestic discretionary spending in inflationadjusted dollars by a mere 33.4%.
In five years, Bush has increased it 35.1%. And thats before the costs for Katrina and Rita and the Medicare benefit kick in. Worse, this comes at a time when everyone concedes that we were facing a fiscal crunch before Bush started handing out dollar bills like a drunk at a strip club. With the looming retirement of Americas baby-boomers, the US needed to start saving, not spending; cutting, not expanding its spending habits.
This was one reason I found myself forced to endorse John Kerry last November. He was easily the more fiscally conservative candidate. Under Clinton, the US actually ran a surplus for a while (thanks, in part, to the Gingrich-run Congress). But most conservatives bit their tongues. Bush promised fiscal tightening in his second term and some actually believed him.
They shouldnt have. When Bush casually dismissed questions about funding the $200 billion Katrina reconstruction with a glib Its going to cost what it costs, steam finally blew out of some loyal Republican ears. When the house majority leader Tom DeLay told the conservative Washington Times that there was no fat left to cut in the budget and that after 11 years of Republican majority weve pared it down pretty good, a few conservatives lost it.
Heres the chairman of the American Conservative Union: Excluding military and homeland security, American taxpayers have witnessed the largest spending increase under any preceding president and Congress since the Great Depression. That would be correct. When you have doubled spending on education in four years, launched two wars and a new mega-entitlement, that tends to happen.
Heres Peggy Noonan, about as loyal a Republican as youll find, in a Wall Street Journal column last week: George W Bush is a big spender. He has never vetoed a spending bill. When Congress serves up a big slab of fat, crackling pork, Mr Bush responds with one big question: Got any barbecue sauce?
Heres Ann Coulter, the Michael Moore of the far right, a pundit whose book on liberalism was titled Treason: Bush has already fulfilled all his campaign promises to liberals and then some! He said hed be a compassionate conservative, which liberals interpreted to mean that he would bend to their will, enact massive spending programmes, and be nice to liberals. When Bush won the election, that sealed the deal. It meant the Democrats won.
Consequently, Bush has enacted massive new spending programmes, obstinately refused to deal with illegal immigration, opposed all conservative Republicans in their primary races, and invited Teddy Kennedy over for movie night. Hes even sent his own father to socialise with ageing porn star Bill Clinton. Ouch.
Conservatives have been quietly frustrated with Bush for a long time now. Honest neoconservatives have long privately conceded that the war in Iraq has been grotesquely mishandled. But in deference to their own party, they spent last year arguing that John Kerry didnt deserve his Vietnam war medals. Social conservatives have just watched as the presidents nominee for chief justice of the Supreme Court pronounced that the constitutional right to abortion on demand merited respect as a legal precedent. This hasnt cheered them up. The nativist right, long enraged by illegal immigration, has been spluttering about foreigners for a while now. But since few want to question the war publicly, oppose the presidents nominees to the court, or lose the Latino vote, the spending issue has become the focus of everyones discontent.
All I can say is: about time. I believe in lower taxes. But I also believe in basic fiscal responsibility. If you do not cut spending to align with lower taxes, you are merely borrowing from the next generation. And if a Republican president has legitimised irresponsible spending, what chance is there that a Democrat will get tough?
This may, in fact, be Bushs real domestic legacy. All a Democratic successor has to do is raise taxes to pay for his splurge, and we will have had the biggest expansion of government power, size and responsibility since the 1930s. What would Reagan say? What would Thatcher? But those glory days are long gone now and it was a Republican president and Congress that finally buried them.
learn the meaning of the phrase, "it takes money to make money."
We as a culture really have to stop using words like 'socialist,' 'communist,' 'fascist,' etc. so cavalierly. Because of overuse and misuse, the meanings of these concepts are being diluted.
Sullivan is making some pretty good points - but he's also lying. The only reason Sullivan turned on Bush was because of gay marriage.
What, Bush turned him down?
Roses are red
Bush is bad
That's all I have to say
Isn't it sad
This analysis is not so wrong... I'm thinking to President Hoover, which was Republican, but also an extreme interventionist in economy. For this reason, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with a free market platform..., won the 1932 presidential election in a landslide. We all know what he did later. I hope that this story isn't going to happen again.
Bush is spending like a socialist, and his successor will be a socialist. Our country is going downhill fast.
I often see John Kerry referred to as a 'socialist' or a 'communist' on these boards, but does anyone seriously think that a Kerry administration would have spent more than this one has.
Sullivan is right. If you want to categorise Kerry as a socialist, then Bush sure looks like one too.
I got news for you all...Bush doesn't spend ANYTHING! Read your Constitution, CONGRESS is the legislative body. Bush is commander-in-chief, and runs our foreign policy...is there anyone here who doesn't doubt his conservative qualifications there? That's all that matters...
What are you, some kind of word fascist?
In my opinion, the words "socialist" and "communist" are generally used in a manner fairly consistent with their true meanings, since they are usually directed at Democrats, the policies of whom are usually actually based on socialist concepts or at least concepts derived from socialism. President Bush may not be a true socialist, but his thinking does come from the same mindset that socialists have in that he believes government should play a significant role in the ordering and arranging of society.
I agree with you on the word "fascist" though, not many of us use that according to its true meaning.
I don't even think Kerry is a Socialist, though he clearly leans in that direction.
I should read before posting..."is there anyone that DOUBTS his conservatism" is waht I should have posted. Oh yea...he also has shown that he will nominate and STAND BY his conservative judical appointments.
Read my post n. 7
Oh gimme a break.
Have you ever heard of the Veto power granted in the very constitution you cite?
He has yet to use it in 5 years.
Republican Socialism = Good
Democrat Socialism = Bad.
Soon there should be a follow up story titled, "Is Andrew Sullivan a Kindergartner? He is writing like one."
Bush does have the power to veto bills. He signed the unConstitutional No Child Left Behind Act, among many others.
Haha, yea that's me! Actually I do value accuracy and precision in language, so in that respect I am a stickler. And clarity is very important.
I was just having a conversation about same-sex marriage with a young college student, for example. She consistently called the issue 'gay marriage,' which it isn't. The issue is not if gay people can or can not get married: every gay person is free to marry. The issue is if people of the same sex may marry each other.
The best way to clarity is to all know exactly what we are talking about.
Re: "Is (President, remember?) Bush a socialist?"
As with any compasionate drug rehabilitation program, President Bush wouldn't want the users to suffer immediate and painful withdrawl symptoms.
However, he is suppressing his homosexuality very well. Don't you think?
Will U. Bemine
"As President Richard Nixon observed in 1971, We are all Keynesians now...."
It's just been renamed, "Compassionate Conservatism".
I'm not happy with current spending.
And I'm not happy with the size of the government and I'm upset about the deficit...
But we are often too quick to use words like "socialist."
Not only is it unfair and innacurate but it lessens the impact when the word is finally used appropriately.
I stopped reading Sullivan a long time ago. Any reason to read him now?
I think that's an overstatement. I don't think it's part of the democrat party platform for the government to own the means of production, for example, so describing them as communists isn't accurate at all.
They are certainly ideological kin to communists and socialists, but I don't think those words are descriptive. It's as silly as them calling conservatives 'fascists' routinely. It's just not a clear, accurate, and precise fit.
Words cannot convey my total disregard for anything the whining Mr. Sullivan has to say.
" Sullivan is making some pretty good points - but he's also lying. The only reason Sullivan turned on Bush was because of gay marriage"
You nailed it. Sullivan has been throwing the world's longest hissy fit ever since Bush came out against gay marriage.
You're right. We ought to get rid of those Republicans in Congress.
Punctuation isn't my thing! :-)
This moron must have Bush and the dem/lib party mixed up,.
He has more influence over what Congress spends than any other person in the world. The Unconsitutional MeddleCare Prescription Drug Giveaway is an excellent example (and not just because of its cost.) And then there's the Presiden't responsibility (and authority) to veto legislation that is not in the national interest, is morally wrong or is Unconstitutional.
CONGRESS controls spending.
Andrew Sullivan: 'Nuff said.
I actually agree with you, words like socialists, communist, Marxist, etc. etc. have lost most of their meaning.
But what's weird is the fact that "Marxist" is still tossed around with such regularity when, in fact, there are so few Marxists.
And Bush doesn't have the balls to stop the REPUBLICAN-CONTROLLED congress and their profligate, obscene spending orgy.
If he doesn't veto spending, then he supports it.
Very true, amigo.
So you're blaming ALL Republicans for their drunken sailor behavior. Well at least we're getting somewhere now. BTW ever heard of the word "veto"? Didn't think so.
"Borrow and spend" is a completely different animal than "tax and spend". Tax and spend is what Clinton did by raising marginal income tax rates, corporate taxes, et al. Once the government puts a new tax in place, it never goes away. Bush is using temporary deficit spending to fix problems his predecessor allowed to fester and worsen. Granted, nobody here wants to see 3+ trillion federal budgets, but would it have been better if the Democrats were in charge and allowed to implement their SOCIALIST health insurance policies, retirement ponzi schemes, and progressive income taxes to punish acheivement and success?
Bush = socialist. Nuff said.
He would have tried, but Republicans in Congress would have stopped him. If Kerry had proposed anything like Bush's prescription drug giveaway, the GOP would have correctly shot it down. Gridlock is the best hope for fiscal discipline, but the Democrats are too dangerous on foreign policy to let them anywhere near the White House.