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Republican presidents more harmful: a Republican president can often enact a more liberal agenda than a Democrat could because many Republicans in Congress are more loyal to party than to principle.

Over the past few generations, congressional Democrats could customarily be relied upon to promote a liberal agenda while their Republican counterparts developed the reputation of being stalwart opponents of our nation's slide into big government and internationalism. The record shows, however, that during the past 50 years, congressional Republicans have exhibited such opposition only when a Democrat occupied the White House. Because recent Republican presidents have capably talked a conservative game while acting as convinced liberals, they have won support for leftist programs not only from congressional Democrats, but also from easily persuaded middle-of-the-road and liberal Republicans.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan took office amid widespread expectations that he would engineer substantial cuts in federal regulations and nondefense spending. But at the time, Hoover Institution researcher Thomas Gale Moore promptly predicted that those expectations were completely illusory, based upon Reagan's performance during his eight years as governor. Moore then looked back over several decades and concluded that "a voter who wants a liberal policy should vote Republican; conversely, if he yearns for a conservative policy, he should cast his ballot for a Democrat." It may come as a surprise to many, but his conclusion is remarkably accurate.

Ongoing Pattern

The pattern detected by Moore has once again become obvious during the administration of George W. Bush. Helped by the liberal mass media, the president has successfully stolen the word "conservative" while promoting increases in government that most Republicans in Congress would never have approved had a Democrat proposed them. The first Bush term saw more than $2 trillion added to the national debt that now exceeds $8 trillion. Instead of using his influence to try to put the brakes on profligate spending by Congress, he has abetted it. The latest Bush budget actually calls for 38 percent more spending than the largest of Clinton's eight budgets.

All of this becomes more astounding with the realization that Bill Clinton was able to point boastfully (if dishonestly) to budget surpluses during the waning years of his presidency. Those "surpluses" were products of accounting gimmicks. But the fact remains that under Clinton federal spending was more restrained than it has been under Bush. Nor is there hope for fiscal sanity in the future because the Congressional Budget Office predicted in 2005 that recently approved Bush programs would escalate the debt by more than $5 trillion over the next 10 years.

The Bush spending binge has included increases for social programs, farm subsidies, the National Endowment for the Arts, foreign aid, and virtually everything else. Federal outlays for education rose enormously when Mr. Bush signed a bill sponsored by ultra-liberal Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), whom he praised for the effort. And our military is now bogged down in a costly (in both fives and fortune) UN-authorized war against Iraq that was based on false claims about weapons of mass destruction, aid to al-Qaeda terrorists, and threats aimed at the United States. Wouldn't Republicans in Congress have stopped a Democrat such as Bill Clinton from much, if not all, of this?

Before Bush

Thomas Gale Moore's 1981 survey of post-World War II administrations led him to state that "Republicans increased real spending 60 percent faster than Democrats [and boosted] social welfare programs 14 percent more generously than did the party which trumpets its concern for the poor and the elderly." The Eisenhower years saw entrenchment, not a promised elimination, of the Roosevelt New Deal programs, the beginning of payments to farmers for not planting, and the appointment of left-leaning Earl Warren and William Brennan to the Supreme Court. Under Eisenhower, the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now Health and Human Services) was pushed through Congress after attempts to do so by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman had failed.

In April 1957 (midway through Ike's two terms), six-time Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas enthused that "the United States was making greater strides toward socialism under Eisenhower than even under Roosevelt." Eisenhower did nothing to earn his image as a conservative Republican.

Richard Nixon, the next GOP standard-bearer, created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by executive order, signed the bill establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), imposed wage and price control on the nation's businesses, and cut U.S. currency's last link to gold. He also went to China, paving the way for relations with that Communist regime. Only a few Republicans bucked his leadership while most went along when told that programs they formerly blocked would proceed only "slowly."

Liberal Republican Senator Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania delightedly summed up what was happening: "We get the action and the conservatives get the rhetoric." Another liberal Republican, Senator Jacob Javits of New York, commented that if Democrat loser Hubert Humphrey had done what Nixon was about to do regarding the pullout in Vietnam, "Humphrey would be shot or impeached."

Where Republicans had regularly done their best to block increases in the national debt ceiling when sought by a Democrat president, most caved in when Ronald Reagan wanted it raised. By the time he left office in 1989, the national debt had been tripled. In March 1982, when his reputation for slashing federal programs persisted, he corrected the press about "the fairytale, the myth, that we somehow are, overall, cutting government spending." And he proceeded to boast that he had arranged for increases over the Carter administration for student loans, welfare, meals, rents, job training, and social security. Later that same year, he teamed up with leading Democrat "Tip" O'Neill to ram the largest tax increase in the nation's history through Congress.

Senior Bush's Record

Soon after he took office in 1989, George H.W. Bush told the nation in a State of the Union address that "spending is under control," while admitting to a $63 billion budget deficit. Most Republicans and Democrats applauded and, predictably, the deficit skyrocketed.

Running against Michael Dukakis in 1988, Mr. Bush ridiculed the Massachusetts Democrat for wanting to increase taxes, ban semiautomatic weapons, raise the EPA to Cabinet-level status, and halt offshore drilling for oil. Once in office, the Republican president adopted these Dukakis proposals and even reversed positions on his famous "Read my lips, no new taxes" pledge as he arm-twisted fellow GOP members in Congress to promote the huge boost in taxes.

Some former Dukakis campaign officials sarcastically noted that their man may have lost the election, but his ideas had triumphed. Mr. Bush also swept the Tiananmen Square massacre under the rug, ignored Congress by seeking UN authorization to confront Saddam Hussein, brazenly insisted that he would use America's military to create a UN-led new world order, and pushed for sharply increased funding for the International Monetary Fund so it could aid the socialists running Russia. If Michael Dukakis had been president, he would have faced enormous Republican opposition for all of this.

Thomas Gale Moore hit the nail on the head in 1981. Now in 2005, we sadly note that President George W. Bush is the latest in a lengthening line of Republican presidents who campaign as conservatives but, once in office, lead their party and the nation into deeper quagmires of liberalism and internationalism.
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Title Annotation:POLITICS
Author:McManus, John F.
Publication:The New American
Date:Jun 27, 2005
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