Alex's Outlook

Sunday, January 25, 2004

State of the GOP

George W. Bush's less-than-inspired SOTU address has kept alive the love-him-and-hate-him opinion a lot of libertarian conservatives have regarding Bush. Andrew Sullivan is one of them, and he has been hammering Bush for a while for his affinity for Big Government, fiscal irresponsibility, and chipping away at civil liberties (e.g. ephedra and steroids).

One could argue that the Republicans have conquered government and government has conquered the Republicans. I haven't been so sure; I have mostly been part of the "starve the beast" school of thought. (If you cut taxes and raise spending rapidly, sooner or later one or the other has to give, and the GOP will cut spending before it raises taxes.)

Lately, my faith in that theory has been shaken. In a democracy, deficits do not necessarily matter; Japan has a much bigger entitlements crisis than we do, a national deficit of 160% of GDP (America's is about 67%) and annual deficits of 7% a year. America is certainly more deficit-conscious than Japan, but at the rate Congress is spending it makes one wonder.

Since it's impossible to tell now, I'm sticking with the GOP through 04. After that, there won't be any more excuses for this French socialist spending spree. I'm guessing Sullivan will too, but a lot of us conservatives are already pretty torn. Patience in small-government circles is wearing pretty thin.

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