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What happened to the Conservatives?

November 23rd, 2003

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not happy with the bill to add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. Ramesh Ponnuru writes in National Review about conservative divisions on the bill. Former Hoosier Review blogger Brian Balta had a good post on it here. Earlier, Balta asked: What happened to the Conservatives?

It's a good question. This Medicare bill is a large expansion of the federal government, something Republicans are supposed to be against. The bill is supposed to cost $400 billion over ten years, but does anyone believe that will be the real cost? I'm sure this new federal entitlement will expend beyond the scope of this bill.

This bill would be bad enough in times of surplus. But the recession, September 11 and the War on Terror have all taken a toll on our budget, and the hundreds of billions Congress had to play with a few years ago are gone. Some of these expenditures cannot be avoided. We have an obligation to rebuild Iraq after we deposed Saddam Hussein, a commitment that is sure to be quite expensive as the months and years pass.

In addition, the President's tax cuts are placing a strain on the budget. I supported these tax cuts and I think more and deeper tax cuts should be passed. (It should be noted that even with these tax cuts federal revenue continues to increase.) However, spending has again outpaces revenues, and now is not the time to be growing government at such a rapid pace.

Is it really government's responsibility to provide prescription drugs to American seniors? Is it really government's prerogative to confiscate the wealth of one person and give it to another? As a philosophical libertarian, I have serious qualms about government welfare programs to begin with. If such programs are to be implemented, it is much better handled by state and local government, not by Washington, D.C.

I have great admiration for President Bush, but I do not think it is too much to ask a Republican President to act like a Republican.

Fortunately, we still have principled Republicans like John Hostettler who oppose such massive increases in federal power. A remnant of conservatism remains.