Thursday, September 22, 2005

Whattup Fiscal Conservatives?

As I've said here before, there are a lot of conservatives, and there's a lot about conservatism, that I respect. I was, after all, once a member of their clan. I do tend to respect fiscal conservatives. Not when they spew nonsense about tax cuts for the wealthy trickling down to the poor because it just stands to reason that lots of people will grab from the trickle before it reaches the bottom, or even the middle. But they are right when they point out that the ability to spend money is one of the most powerful attributes of government. For example, if you believe that everything a teenager needs to know about sex is not to have it, then you don't have to outlaw teaching about contraception, you just need to spend $230 million a year on an abstinence education program. One reason that fiscal conservatives hate government spending is that they know that the government, by spending on pet projects, can actually direct the course of society without passing laws. I respect them for realizing that and for pointing out that the government program you love today might be counterbalanced by one you loathe tomorrow.

But I'm not writing this to praise today's fiscal conservatives. They have really pissed me off in the last couple of days. Mostly, becase they're not what they say they are. This Chicago Tribune story is representative of their current complaint, that spending on reconstruction of the Gulf Coast needs to be offset with budget cuts because of our deficit. Now, I can understand that in the wake of an expensive national emergency that we might have to make some sacrifices and that some pet projects might have to go. But, look at the Katrina bill. $200 billion.

So, where were these fiscal conservatives during the run up to our war of choice in Iraq?

Oh, they were voting for it, and deciding to settle the bill later and even lying that there would be no bill because if Iraq's oil revenues.

So, let me get this straight: to be fiscally conservative in 2005 means that when our own citizens are struck by a natural disaster, any spending we incur to make things right needs to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere. Also, a year later, these same fiscal conservatives said that we don't have money that we could use to shore up the Social Security system, despite the mounting bills in Iraq at the time. But, if we're going to invade and occupy another country in a hostile region, these fiscal conservatives say it's okay to sell more Treasury bonds and to pay for it later, with interest.

I remember that John Kerry was criticized for being small-minded and selfish when he pointed out that we're opening fire departments in Baghdad and closing them at home. But it does seem like he had a point now, doesn't it? We can afford to invade and occupy Iraq, a bill we're paying wth debt, with interest, with our deteriorating global credit and with the lives of our volunteer soldiers. That's okay. But when are own people are in trouble, we have to fret over the bill.

See, there are no fiscal conservatives in today's Republican party. If there were, I could at least respectfully disagree with them, but there aren't. What these mis-labelled politicians really believe is that it's okay to spend debt to get what they want but when they don't believe in something, or when the unexpected occurs and their own citizens are suffering, we're out of money. This is all just an attempt, on their part, to cut government programs that they don't agree with. The Perscription Drug Benefit for seniors on Medicare is their big target. But if you're wondering why I mentioned the $230 million for abstinence education up top, well, I brought it up because it'd be an easy couple of hundred million they could save, and it's not on their list. These aren't fiscal conservatives at all. They just want to cut spending for things they don't like and they're using the destruction in the Gulf as a crass excuse.


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