The Spectacle Blog

Democrats: The Small Government Party

By on 10.13.06 | 4:16PM

Bill Clinton says:

"This is an election unlike any other I have ever participated in. For six years this country has been totally dominated - not by the Republican Party, this is not fair to the Republican Party - by a narrow sliver of the Republican Party, its more right-wing and its most ideological element. When the chips are down, this country has been jammed to the right, jammed into an ideological corner, alienated from its allies, and we're in a lot of trouble ... The Democratic Party has become the liberal and conservative party in America. If you want to be fiscally conservative, you've got to be for us. If you want to conserve natural resources, you've got to be for us," he said. "If you want a change of course in Iraq/>/>/>/> ... you've got to be for us."

Andrew Sullivan, citing

Clinton/>/>'s comments approvingly, adds: "Fiscal conservatives, limited government conservatives, libertarian conservatives: in this election, the Democrats are the only way to stop the abuse of power now dominant in the GOP leadership."

It's interesting to see that Sullivan's blog has degenerated from criticism of the Bush administration to outright stumping for Democrats.

I am as utterly disgusted as anyone by the era of runaway spending that has been ushered in by the Republican Congress and the Bush administration and think they deserve every bit of criticism they have gotten on fiscal matters. It's one thing to say that divided government will gum up the works and lead to slower spending growth, or to argue that a Republican loss is necessary to send the message to GOP leaders that they need to return to their small government roots, but to go to the other extreme and hold-up Democrats as the great hope for limited government is utterly absurd.

Yes, I'm aware that spending grew at a lower rate during the Clinton presidency, but that had more to do with the so-called "peace dividend" as well as the fact that for a few years, the Republican Congress was at least somewhat serious about reducing the size of government than it did with a desire by Clinton to slash spending. Republicans routinely returned budgets that were lower than Clinton/>/> requested, and they twisted his arm into getting welfare reform. While this may be an argument in favor of a return to gridlock, it does not make Democrats the small government party.

Republicans may have, unfortunately, lost all claims to being the party of limited government, but the philosophy of the Democratic Party is still rooted in big government. While small government conservatives oppose the prescription drug plan because they don't think it should be the government's responsibility to pay for people's medication, Democrats oppose it on grounds that it is a windfall for drug companies. Sullivan, in his recent debate with David Brooks, lamented the growth of unfunded liabilities under President Bush, but when Bush actually made a concerted effort to reform Social Security last year, the Democrats responded with demagoguery, distorting the president's views and irresponsibly downplaying the crisis. Democrats have used scare tactics to block any serious effort at entitlement reform for decades and yet Sullivan wants us to look to the party to save us from Republican excesses.

Check out the proposals of Democrats' "New Direction For America." They include: raising the minimum wage, expanding college aid and passing laws to end "price gouging" by oil companies. They also propose to "fix" the Medicare prescription drug plan to "negotiate lower drug prices" and "stop any plan to privatize Social Security."

Does this sound like the party of limited government to you?

  

Send to Kindle

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article