By Alan Caruba
My friend, Don Devine, in addition to being a vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, edits its “Conservative Battleline” and is a contributor to it. If you want to know how and what a true conservative thinks, you could do no better than to read Dr. Devine’s writings.
In a recent commentary, while examining the impact of the choice of Gov. Sarah Palin to the McCain ticket, he took a look at the last seven years of the Bush Administration. He did so from the perspective of having served in the Reagan Administration where he earned the sobriquet, “Reagan’s swift sword.”
“Let us be very frank. National government non-defense spending has hemorrhaged to historic highs during the last seven years under George W. Bush and Republican Congresses."
“Spending increased by an all-time modern high of 25 percent over his first term and an additional 14 percent so far the second, vastly exceeding any period since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society – before the bailouts and plus adding the largest new entitlement since Goldwater’s opponent, in the form of Medicare prescription drugs.”
“As far as regulation is concerned, the last year of the Carter Administration produced 73,258 pages of regulation, which Reagan cut back to 50,616 pages. By the end of the Clinton years, the number of pages was back up to 64,438. But the Bush Administration ended 2007 with 72,090 pages – almost back to where Reagan began.”
“And now we have a whole new regulatory scheme where Federal bureaucrats will decide subjectively which loans are ‘bad’ and how much each banker will be paid for them. Stay tuned for the abuses and favoritism.’”
I doubt any conservative could be comfortable with the solution that Congress and the White House has arrived at to avoid what everyone seems to agree would be a financial meltdown of our banking and investment system.
The economic life of our nation is driven as much by emotion as by hard facts. Even the now unlamented Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, spoke of “irrational exuberance” at one point. He was, in retrospect, part of the problem.
What Devine’s succinct review of the two Bush terms in office reveals is a total indifference to any fiscal prudence or restraint. Bush never vetoed a spending bill until after the 2006 midterm elections when Republicans lost control of Congress.
It should be noted, however, that the current financial crisis is almost entirely a Democrat creation, put in place during the Clinton years, based on the belief that poor people have some kind of right to live in homes that they can’t afford. It forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to abandon prudent procedures. Both parties, though, can share the blame for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that distorted accounting practices in the wake of the Enron scandal.
A lot of politicians and other people combined to create the present mess, but a President puts the imprint of his personality and policies on the mood of a nation. The message too many Americans got was like the famous New Orlean’s motto, “Laissez le bon temps roulez.” Let the good times roll.
In 2005, the good times ended for New Orleans courtesy of Hurricane Katrina. No matter who is elected, the “good times” for the nation is ending as the Bush Administration begins to pack and make ready to leave.
Political parties are guided by fairly identifiable ideologies. When the Republicans abandoned theirs to become in effect Democrats, they betrayed conservative principles and opened the doors of power to a Democrat Party that ill-serves our present and future needs.