TV Host Glenn Beck has a picture wall of people he believes part of a subtle conspiracy to turn our country socialist. But the wall has a glaring gap – Glenn, where is George Bush’s picture? And where were you eight years ago?
It’s getting to be ancient history but back when Republicans had principles as well as political ambitions they used to be adamantly against government deficit spending. First of all the money would eventually have to be paid back. People who had lived through 70% tax rates didn’t fool themselves into thinking government spending would collapse. They knew a far more likely response would be a confiscatory tax policy. As importantly Republicans believed deficit spending led to bigger government and eventually even socialism.
Republicans used to know that perhaps the ONLY way to control the growth of government was to force voters to pay for it as they used it. Decoupling government spending from taxes almost guaranteed that spending would grow and with it the government’s intrusion into our economy and lives. Deficits also undermined belief in the free market. Explicit in a budget deficit is the idea that the free market won’t grow and prosper without government intervention and financial support. Republicans were concerned that if voters came to accept the idea that the government needed to shape and pump up the economy to insure growth then any shortcomings in the economy would lead to demand for government to do more. Once this cycle was started each recession would result in more government spending, larger deficits and greater intrusion into the economy.
Needless to say few of the ancient Republican values got much exercise over the past eight years. Republicans stood by while President Bush ran up huge deficits and in general increased the size of government. Any time Republicans started getting squeamish about Bush’s policies they took a hit off Karl Rove’s meth pipe of permanent majority. Now the drugs have worn off, government is expanding exactly as projected and all the Republicans have to show for it is a mouth full of rotted teeth and bad breath.
And that is why President Bush needs to be at the top of Beck’s picture wall. If we wind up with Beck’s worst nighmare, a socialist government (not likely), it will be George Bush who will be the father of American Socialism.