Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Intellectual Dishonesty

I can't stand it when libertarians are linked with George W. Bush, lumped together as fiscal conservatives. George W. Bush is not a fiscal conservative. He is a borrow & spend fiscal liberal. No president has increased spending at a faster rate than George W. Bush- not FDR, not LBJ, no one.

So the post on the blog Balloon Juice, "Fiscal Conservatism, Part Two" made me go to the garage to hammer the heavy bag for a few minutes.

The Bush economic record is a disaster, for taking a surplus and turning into a monstrous deficit. It was due to spending into a tax cut.

That's where the intellectual dishonesty comes in- blaming the tax cut while putting the blinders on for the increased spending Bush signed into law.

Libertarians, who are fiscal conservatives, have been beating up Republicans for their out-of-control spending for the better part of the 8-year Bush Administration. He didn't use his veto pen for a single appropriations bill while the Republicans had control of Congress. I must have had 20 posts on the subject by myself.

I thought people on the right were suckers for accepting this batch of Republicans as fiscal conservatives. But that people on the left apparently also accept them as such indicates to me that nobody really has a grasp of what a fiscal conservative stands for. Either that, or there is widespread engagement in intellectual dishonesty.

So, allow me to fill the breach.

Fiscal conservative: lower taxes, lower spending
Fiscal liberal, tax & spend variety: higher taxes, higher spending
Fiscal liberal, borrow & spend variety: lower taxes, higher spending, higher borrowing, higher taxes tomorrow

George W. Bush, the Republican leadership of the 108th and 109th Congress- all are of the latter stripe. Libertarians having nothing to do with that.

By the way, now that the 110th Congress is in power, and writes the law, including the budget, it could aggressively attack the deficit by cutting spending. But that's something it is unwilling to consider. To Democrats, the only way to balance a budget bloated by spending is to tax more.

More than one way to skin a cat, folks. Cutting spending balances the budget, too.

If Democrats don't know where to start, allow this Libertarian to give you some hints:


and, Iraq. At least live up to your rhetoric- even if Bush didn't live up to his on fiscal conservatism.

Old Kole posts on Republican spending, at various levels of government:


And, last but not least, here is my post from November 28, 2004. It was printed as a column in a few Indiana newspapers. It was a post-election analysis, on the Republican sweep, both nationally and here in Indiana. I warned fiscal conservatives that they would not be happy with the result of electing Republicans, hoping for spending cuts.
But, behind some of the grins, there is a group within the broad spectrum of conservatives that is gritting its clenched teeth behind a half-hearted smile. While excited for the possibilities Republican majorities bring, this group shares a great deal of the anxiety liberals have in anticipation of the first wave of new policy that will soon greet us. This group is the fiscal conservatives.

It was not a series of referendums on capping budgetary growth that swept George W. Bush to re-election. It was a series of referendums on gay marriage.

If Republicans won't do the job of reducing spending this year, with their majorities at home and in Washington, fiscal conservatives will know that it is time to look for a new political home. They will have no choice but to conclude that if spending won't be cut this year, it never will so long as Republicans are in charge.

Republicans didn't cut a thing. Grover Norquist got nothing. I got nothing... except a bigger share of a deficit, for money spent on things I generally don't approve of. And, I have liberals calling George Bush a fiscal conservative, sullying the good name of fiscal conservatism?

You want to come over and kick my dog, too?


Doug said...

I think it has to do with the malleability of terms like "conservative" and "liberal."

Personally, I like to mock the fiscal conservatism of the federal Republicans to drive home the point that they aren't fiscally responsible. There's been a marketing campaign over the years to enhance the "conservative" brand and demonize the "liberal" brand without much regard to what those terms ought to mean. In mass market, political terms, "conservative" has come to mean "Republican" -- no more, no less.

If Republican = conservatism; and Republican = huge debts; then "fiscal conservatism" = "Red Ink Republicanism."

One of two things needs to happen -- the conservative brand needs to get beaten around a bit or the Republican Party needs to be disassociated from the term. It's been something like 40 years since a Republican President balanced a budget. Fiscal conservatives have no business voting for a Republican President, let alone complain about the Democrats while they do it.

Libertarians have plenty of room to be critical; but, unfortunately, they have the sort of purity only available to the powerless.

Mike Kole said...

I'd say that this was John Cole's attempt to return the favor- to demonize the fiscal conservative brand without regard to what the term means. And, like I say, intellectually dishonest.

Tellingly, he deleted my comment from his blog, challenging his demonization. It makes him not merely intellectually dishonest in my book, but also a propagandist.

varangianguard said...

This might make you feel better. It is the Non Sequitor cartoon for Thursday, July 31st. Doesn't only apply to "debates"...

Non Sequitor