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Sunday, March 3, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Right Place, Wrong Time

You have to scratch your head at the Republican Party's recent decision to take a stand against fiscal irresponsibility. It's not the principals they cite I have a problem with, it's the timing.

This is the same party that treated the federal government's budget like a theoretical exercise while wielding complete control of the purse strings. Between 2001 and 2004, while Republicans controlled the White House and Congress (save for a brief period when Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords left the GOP), federal spending increased by a whopping 28.8 percent according to The Independent Institute. The Cato Institute claims that spending during former president Bush's first term grew by 33 percent.

The Cato Institute notes that inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs Congressional Republicans vowed to eliminate in 1995 had grown by 27 percent as of May 2005.

In one of the more obvious political ploys I've ever seen, the Bush administration pushed for and received a Medicare bill that could cost over $550 billion in just ten years. Congressional Republicans made it happen.

This type of drunken sailor economics cost the GOP dearly in both the 2006 midterm elections and the 2008 general election. The party has been effectively reduced to a bystander while the Democrats try to right the money ship.

As much as I've criticized former president Bush and the Republicans in general in the past, I actually agree with their alleged fiscal policies. The federal government as currently constituted is an obscene distortion of what the Founding Fathers envisioned. The Department of Education should not exist. Neither should the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But what I believe is neither here nor there. As much as I hate the expression, it is what it is. More precisely, it is what it has become. Anyone waiting for the government to shrink will die waiting.

After losing two elections in embarrassing fashion the GOP should be doing everything it can to re-connect with voters. This is the same party that successfully overthrew a Congress that had been dominated by Democrats for decades, back in the mid-1990s. You don't accomplish that feat through sleight of hand.

Yet in the face of some of the worst economic times this country has seen in quite some time, several GOP governors are stating they will refuse to accept funds created by the recently passed economic stimulus package.

The governors of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alaska, South Carolina, and Idaho have indicated they have reservations about accepting the money.

These governors know full well they can try to bolster their conservative credentials because the stimulus package authorizes state legislatures to override the governors and vote to accept the funds anyway. But is this really the time to make hollow statements for purely political reasons?

Apparently some high-ranking GOP members think it is. And you wonder why the party is on the outside looking in.

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