Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where Were The "Conservatives" When George W. Bush Ran His Deficits?


As a sane human being who values his future, I find it particularly discouraging to watch as the Obama Administration and its accomplices in Congress run trillion dollar deficits in excess of the already ridiculous deficits left behind by the Bush Administration. My aggravation however, turns to something more like rage when I hear partisan defenders of the Democrats' agenda say "Where were you conservatives when Bush was running these deficits? I didn't hear you complaining then."



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To begin with, it's an evasion of the issue, which is whether or not it's a good thing for our country to run deficits (and it is decidedly not). Secondly, it implies that Obama is somehow absolved of any responsibility for ruining our country because Bush started ruining it first. In what universe does that make any sense? Last of all, not all conservatives gave George W. Bush a free pass on deficit spending. Many did, just as many Democrats are giving Obama a free pass on faith-based initiatives, CIA renditions, ordering another troop surge, and breaking all of his promises about transparency.

In both cases, such people are just partisan sheep drinking their party's Kool Aid and lacking the moral courage and boldness to hold their leaders accountable to their values. But there were some fiscal conservatives trying to hold Bush accountable. In fact, if the average Democrat defending Obama's deficits would take just one moment to stop beating a straw man, he'd see that the most serious, most intellectual, most credible voices of fiscal conservatism have been earnest in holding the Bush Administration accountable.

What am I trying to say? If you support Obama's steep deficits, you're the partisan hack, not me or the institutions I support.

Here's the proof:


May 23, 2007 - The Acton Institute

Both of our major political parties have missed what seems so obvious. One says that we need more tax cuts to strengthen the economy. This is correct. The problem is that they are not willing to also make serious budget cuts. That party has spent more than any previous administration.


February 5, 2007 - The Independent Institute

The Bush administration has turned on the funding spigots—with the most rapid budget increases of any administration since that of LBJ. The administration has wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on everything from expanding benefits in an insolvent Medicare program to massive increases in the defense and homeland security budgets.


February 8, 2005 - The Cato Institute

For fiscal conservatives the biggest question about the Bush second term is whether the reckless spending spree that this president launched four years ago will continue over these next four years. Let us hope not, because if the expenditure patterns continue, Bush will go down in American history as one of the biggest debt and spend presidents ever.


January 3, 2005 - The Independent Institute

During his reelection campaign, President Bush pledged to cut the federal deficit in half by 2009. The president has decided to measure his progress using an initial deficit figure of $521 billion, thus making his eventual goal a reduction to a $261 billion deficit. The problem is that the budget deficit was never $521 billion. This number was only an outdated Bush administration guess about what the deficit would be.


December 6, 2004 - The Heritage Foundation

Unless spending is peeled back, President Bush's domestic policy legacy will be higher taxes, budget deficits and stalled Social Security reform.


July 31, 2003 - The Cato Institute

George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders." The new estimates show that, under Bush, total outlays will have risen $408 billion in just three years to $2.272 trillion: an enormous increase in federal spending of 22 percent.


July 27, 2003 - The Cato Institute

The Right's total abandonment of balanced budgeting is stunning. Sure, taxes are unpleasant to pay. But someone, someday has to pay for the government we're buying every year. Deficit spending just puts off the day of reckoning, but with interest. Trading off smaller taxes today for larger taxes tomorrow is a curious position for anti-tax conservatives to take.


June 11, 2003 - Citizens for Tax Justice

President Bush’s return to huge deficit spending represents a sharp break from the recent past. During President Clinton’s second term, the government actually ran on-budget surpluses and began paying down the national debt. The new level of deficit spending exceeds the previous records set during the Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush administrations, when on-budget deficits averaged 25 percent and 28 percent of on-budget spending, respectively.


It even goes back to previous Republican Presidents and their deficits:


March 4, 1992 - The Heritage Foundation

But what few taxpayers know and Bush seems to be among them, is that federal domestic spending has grown molrt [sic -electronically archived document contains errors] under his watch than under any other Administration.


January 29, 1992 - The Heritage Foundation

It [Bush's proposed budget] increases federal domestic spending, already at record levels thanks to the 1990 budget deal, by another $51.6 billion next year. This means that this spending will soar 81 percent faster than projected inflation. And the Bush budget calls for more than $25 billion of new taxes over the next five years.


April 15, 1991 - The Heritage Foundation

For every new dollar that tax payers turn over to the federal treasury as a result of last years budget deal, Con gress [sic] and the Bush Administration will spend an additional $1.83 on domestic programs, making this the largest build-up in domestic spending in three decades.


February 1987 - The Freeman

The record of deficit spending depresses and frightens most Americans. They worry that they are living on borrowed time that some day must end, or in a dream world that will crash like the stock market in 1929. They sense that something is wrong and that, in the end, the Federal debt will hurt their own financial situation. After all, debts need to be paid, even government debts. But this concern among voters is difficult to grasp as a tangible, solvable problem. They do not see the deficit as an immediate threat nor do they perceive a crisis that needs to be solved today. Therefore, they are unwilling to take the painful steps that are believed to be essential to reduce the deficit drastically.

Spread the Word!


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7 comments:

Chris F. said...

I have been pretty much a conservative in the small government sense for a long time. When I turned 18 in 1994, I registered as a Republican since they were the party of small government or so I thought.

I realized in 2000 that the GOP as a whole didn't shrink the government as they had promised to do so. I've grown by leaps and bounds over this time. I'm wiser, stronger, more politically astute, etc... Whatever life throws at me, I'm ready.

W. E. Messamore said...

How many times have I heard this story? I think there's enough people like us to start our own party!

Boy meets GOP. Boy falls in love. Boy becomes man. Man becomes disillusioned. Man becomes libertarian.

Josh said...

My story is almost exactly the same as Chris F's, the only difference being I turned 18 in '96.

As for this whole "where were you when Bush and Republicans ran up deficits," on top of the link you posted above, Cato published 2 books exposing Republicans as a wasteful big spending party.

W. E. Messamore said...

It's funny, after posting this, you're not the first person to let me know of more Cato publications that reamed Bush and the GOP for big spending. They are on top of their game!

And thanks for providing another example of someone whose political life and awareness follows this model. I know all too many! My life follows a similar model, the difference being that I turned 18 in 2005.

Dave said...

Until the Republican party has the balls to get back to it's conservative roots instead of just being another not quite as bad choice, they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot. It is not correct to say you did it too, so don't preach to us, but the Republicans under Bush created their own mess. A mess that now gives the Democrats so much ammunition to throw back in their face. They need a strong conservative leader to reign them in. If only more people would have listened to Dr. Ron Paul. Dave

W. E. Messamore said...

You are definitely correct. While not all of us were on the deficit bandwagon during the Bush years, I am most aggravated (to put it mildly) at the Republicans who wasted a perfect opportunity to reverse government expansion and gave the Democrats a lame excuse to do their worst. Counterfeit capitalists have done the most damage to our cause.

Graham Shevlin said...

The sudden appearance of whiny small-government people is no surprise to me. I have known for a long time that a lot of people in the UK was into "small government" only when the government spends money on Stuff They Like. Many GOP supporters were only too happy to see money spent on the Iraq war and other misadventures, but they deeply dislike any money being spent on anything that they derisively term "welfare". If you want to cause the most cognitive dissonance, ask them about the money being spent on the War On Some Drugs...there is a lot of hypocrisy there, and I am only too willing to point it out. However...
The key point that the whole "they did it too!" rallying cry misses is that neither of the mass-market political parties in the USA has any real interest in balancing the budget. They are into small government when they see spending they don't like, and into big government when they want to spend money on stuff that they like.
But the truth is a little deeper and more awkward than that. We The People (I love that phrase) voted these people into office. Right now the wider electorate in the USA continually votes people into office who are, to put it bluntly, duplicitous bullshitters. Those people promise to cut taxes, increase spending and balance the budget (a promise notoriously made by Ronald Reagan in a 1980 Presidential Debate, to which John Anderson's correct reply was "the only way to do that is with mirrors"). The electorates keep voting for people making these promises. Until the collective intelligence of the electorate rises, we can expect both of the major parties to continue to spend more money than they have coming in as revenues.

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