Free Markets, Free People


The “Fiscal Conservatives Are Hypocrites” Canard

The blog Dissenting Justice entitles a post: “Why Aren’t Self-Proclaimed Fiscal Conservatives Questioning Afghanistan Troop Surge?”

The author then questions why “fiscal conservatives” are fighting tooth and nail to defeat this monstrosity of a health care bill but seem fine with spending billions if not trillions on the war in Afghanistan. He apparently finds that to be a hypocritical and contradictory position.

Really? Well since he lists himself as a professor of Constitutional Law, Critical Race Theory, Law and Social Change, and Equal Protection Theory at the American University, Washington College of Law, I’ll ask him where in the Constitution he finds the authorization for entitlement programs such as health care? As for defense appropriations and war fighting, even I can find authorization for them in the Constitution.

A second point – wars end. Entitlements don’t. Which do you suppose will cost more in the next 20, 30 or 40 years? Afghanistan or health care “reform”? I think everyone knows that answer.

Those alone seem to me to be two very good reasons fiscal hawks are neither hypocritical or contradictory in their stance.

~McQ

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28 Responses to The “Fiscal Conservatives Are Hypocrites” Canard

  • I think somebody who lists that many titles for himself is… um… compensating for something.
    POSTED AT “DISSENTING JUSTICE”
    “Bombing foreign nations and leading young Americans to their deaths in the name of national security (however skeptical the claim) is worth the expense. Funding healthcare for almost all Americans is reprehensible and socialist. Someone please explain this logic.”

    Well, let’s see:

    1. Making war has ALWAYS been a perogative of a nation-state;

    2. The Constitution explicitly gives this power to the government;

    3. In contrast, there is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that requires the government to give out charity, and indeed, under the concept of enumerated powers, the federal government is outright FORBIDDEN to do it;

    4. If one tries to claim that such a power to bestow charity IS within the federal government’s constitutional powers, how is it that generations of some of the most brilliant Americans, including the people who WROTE THE CONSTITUTION IN THE FIRST PLACE, managed to miss it for nearly 150 years?

    5. As a moral issue, if a person wants to give to charity, that’s fine, but I regard it as theft for Bob to use the police power of the state to take money from Tom and give it to Joe so that Bob can feel virtuous.

    6. Our country is bankrupt. Can somebody explain how taking on even more open-ended spending is a good idea?

    Now for a couple of other points:

    “Across the aisle, Republicans are behaving like ‘born-again budget conservatives.’ They suddenly embraced fiscal restraint following the election of President Obama, but they recklessly agreed to cut taxes and increase spending during the Bush administration.”

    Yes, and their voters are increasingly angry about it. This is, in large part, why they lost in 2006 and in 2008: a significant fraction of their own base distrusted and even despised them. You know their base, right? The ones that tolerant, intellectual, inclusive libs like to call “teabaggers”? Go to a few conservative blogs and I believe you’ll find considerable criticism of the GOP’s big-spending ways. I certainly will not defend them.

    I also repeat the remark about our country being bankrupt. Becoming a fiscal conservative when faced with a $12 trillion debt may be late, but better late than never.

    I also have to ask if you think that pointing out bad behavior on the part of one person or group excuses it in another person or group. If so, then Bush should get a pass on his wars because, after all, Johnson did it, too.

    “Bombing foreign nations and leading young Americans to their deaths in the name of national security (however skeptical the claim) is worth the expense.”

    Please list which times when we attacked foreign nations and lead Americans to their deaths in the name of national security was OK with you. War for Independence? Civil War? World War II? May I accuse you of being either unwilling to fight ANY war for “national security”, or are you merely a hypocrite who likes to pick and choose his wars in the way that (gasp!) other Americans like to pick and choose how they want to see their taxes spent?

    “After weeks of deliberation regarding a military-endorsed troop surge in Afghanistan, President Obama, according to emerging reports, has agreed to send an additional 34,000 troops to fight the Taliban. The troop surge would take place over the next 9 months. The estimated cost for the war over the next decade approaches $1 trillion — more than the cost of each healthcare reform package pending in Congress.”

    An important point: wars end. Why not claim that the war in A-stan will last for a century and use THAT cost to compare to the highly dubious estimates of how much HarryCare will cost us?

    Oh, but I’m wrong about one thing: some wars NEVER end. Take, for example, the “War on Poverty”. That one will never end because there’s always some joker who thinks that it’s perfectly OK to purchase a feeling of virtue (or some votes) with somebody else’s money.

  • This is a typical Erbian leftist argument, illustrating yet again that the left is no longer interested (and hasn’t been for a long, long time) in anything approaching good-faith debate. They just want to find any rhetorical device that they imagine is a convenient stick to beat on the right, and any connection to reality or logic is purely coincidental.

    • I suggest that it’s beyond the left being no longer interested in good-faith debate: they are not CAPABLE of it.  You say – correctly – that lefties sieze upon any rhetorical device they can find as a stick to beat the right.  This is because they are not capable of framing a logical, cogent argument to support their own positions, but instead are stuck with shibboleths, tu quo que, and (ultimately) nothing but their own “feelings”.

      Witness the argument above: Hutchinson rants that we must provide universal health care, complains that Republicans were big spenders under Bush, and expresses his moral outrage that we’re bombing other countries and getting our own men killed.  Not a logical argument to be seen.  Nothing about why it’s a good idea to provide universal health insurance, nothing about why we ought to get out of A-stan, nothing about why the current budget path is just fine.

      For somebody with such an impressive list of credentials, Hutchinson really seems a little soft in the intellect department.

  • I didn’t write it, so leave me alone Billy, you dense rightie.

  • Wars end, and then new ones begin. The point is that the cost of the Afghanistan war over the next ten years exceeds that of the healthcare bills.  Yet, so-called fiscal hawks are not worried about funding this expense — which, without a revenue source, will increase the deficit.  Also, unlike other “entitlement” programs, the public option will be funded (ultimately) by premium payments (just like other insurance). Therefore, the concern about cost is overstated.

    As for the constitutionality of benefits programs, the Constitution explicitly endows Congress with the power to “spend” and “tax” to promote the general welfare of the nation (see Article I). It also allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce, which can (and often) requires money.   Not even the most extremely conservative judges and legal scholars accept the argument that federal expenditures for things like healthcare violates the Constitution.  Your argument, if accepted, would call into question governmental expenditure for student grants and loan programs, federal highways, “faith-based” initiatives and campaign finance.

    A question for you: Where does the Constitution authorize the US to fight “wars” without formally declaring war? The US has not declared war since WWII — although the Constitution seems to anticipate that nation-to-nation combat will occur only after a formal declaration of war (rather than an open-ended “authorization for the use of military force”). 

    Finally, to the person who thinks the criticism — which applies to Democrats and Republicans alike — signifies a lack of interest in true debate, read this link and try again: http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2009/08/omg-liberal-has-criticized-liberals-and.html. Debate, by definition, involves disagreement.

    • Wars end, and then new ones begin. The point is that the cost of the Afghanistan war over the next ten years exceeds that of the healthcare bills.

      You’ve specifically avoided my point. If the Afghan war ends in say 5 years, a) it won’t cost as much as health care and b) health care won’t end. Consequently the cost of health care over the period I specified (20, 30, 40 years) will be trillions higher, won’t it? Even if it takes 15 years to end the Afghan war, we all know it will end. Cost for health care won’t “end”, will it? And, once you review the plan (front end load taxes, introduce benefits in 2014 to make the spending seem low in the 10 year window which the CBO scores) you know that in year 11 health care spending will explode.

      As for the constitutionality of benefits programs, the Constitution explicitly endows Congress with the power to “spend” and “tax” to promote the general welfare of the nation (see Article I).

      Of course we both know that’s a spurious interpretation and even a cursory reading of the prolific writing of those who actually put the document together and approved it will disabuse anyone of the notion that the term “promote the general welfare” was at all intended as you claim. Instead it was to provide equal opportunity and equal justice under the law so that all could thrive. That was their idea of “promoting the general welfare”. In short, the general welfare means no more than those legal foundations that facilitate the achievement of the well-being, economic and otherwise, of the people on their own, not government’s, initiative.

      Not even the most extremely conservative judges and legal scholars accept the argument that federal expenditures for things like healthcare violates the Constitution. Your argument, if accepted, would call into question governmental expenditure for student grants and loan programs, federal highways, “faith-based” initiatives and campaign finance.

      You’re precisely correct, as would anyone who actually studies what was said by those who wrote the document you portend to know so well. In fact, most that do understand that the Commerce clause has been so bastardized by the courts that it isn’t remotely similar to the intent under which it was first written. And that would also include expenditures for the things you mention. The fact that they exist doesn’t mean they conform to the Constitution or its intent. It simply means that people were more interested in using government as an instrument of redistribution than adhering to the Constitution and the courts, at various times, went along with it. For example, your interpretation of the “general welfare clause”.

      A question for you: Where does the Constitution authorize the US to fight “wars” without formally declaring war? The US has not declared war since WWII — although the Constitution seems to anticipate that nation-to-nation combat will occur only after a formal declaration of war (rather than an open-ended “authorization for the use of military force”).

      As I recall, the Constitution says Congress has the power to declare war. Even the strictest interpretation of that would agree that means Congress must authorize a war before it can be fought – and in both the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, that was done. Nowhere in that enumerated power do I see where it requires a formal declaration of war as a prerequisite to doing so.

    • <blockquote>The US has not declared war since WWII — although the Constitution seems to anticipate that nation-to-nation combat will occur only after a formal declaration of war (rather than an open-ended “authorization for the use of military force”). </blockquote>

      The Authorization of the Use of Military Force <i>is</i> a declaration of war.  (And your reading of the Constitution on this issue is far more stringent than that of conservatives on the health care issue.)
      Article 1 Section 8 says that Congress has the power “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.  It does <i>not</i> say what form that declaration of war must take — that is up to Congress itself.
      The declaration of war for WW1 read as follows:
      <blockquote>
      WHEREAS, The Imperial German Government has committed repeated acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America; therefore, be it
      Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial German Government, which has thus been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared; and
      That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial German Government; and to bring the conflict to a successful termination all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States.</blockquote>
      That’s not materially different from the AUMF for Iraq or the GWOT.  In your own words, this declaration is an open-ended authorization for the use of military force.

  • The point is that the cost of the Afghanistan war over the next ten years exceeds that of the healthcare bills.

    Really any evidence for this?  Or is just saying it good enough?

    The US has not declared war since WWII — although the Constitution seems to anticipate that nation-to-nation combat will occur only after a formal declaration of war (rather than an open-ended “authorization for the use of military force”). 

    Did you know that the most destructive war in US history was waged without a declaration of war?  That being the Civil War…history’s not your strong point is it?  In fact the US has declared war a bare majority of times it has resorted to armed force….starting with the UNDECLARED “war” against France and then following up with the “war” against the Barbary Pirates.  But hey, don’t let a good idea get spoiled by pesky ole’ facts.

  • These are the same cretins who played “chickenhawk” card for years while bellyaching about how Afghanistan was the “good war” we “had to win” but sure didn’t sign up. And these same cretins who whine constantly about the need for higher taxes but never send a voluntary overpayment to the US Treasury- they’d be happy to take it!

    Children, we’re dealing with children here.

  • Dissenting Justice does have a lot of problems.  He contends that after one war there is another.  Well, maybe and maybe not.  But, if there is, it is an independent decision.  That is not true of an entitlement.  Would Dissenting Justice like to see each and every entitlement debated every four or five years?  I doubt it.

    Second, Dissenting Justice is now giving the preamble to the Constitution some kind of authority for action.  No, the preamble merely explains why the Constitution was being written.  Otherwise, there would be no need for the rest of it.  The idea that the preamble provides an authority at all is breathtakingly ignorant.

    The final question about war is interesting, unt unnecessary.  In every case, Congress has authorized the expenditure and the authority for the President to act.  Whether or not the word “war” is included is irrelevant.

    Seriously, is Dissenting Justice the best the left can do?  How embarrassing.

    Rick

    • In addition to the preamble the general welfare is also mentioned in
      Article I,Section 8

      “The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;…” 

      • Why is there the rest of Section 8, then?
        Note that the rest of Section 8 <i>enumerates things Congress can do</i>, including things that subsume “defense” and… yes, “general welfare” – and that this mention of “the General Welfare” is there… to explain why Congress can levy taxes.
        The mention at the start of section 8 is the <I>justification for the tax power</i>, not a grant of power to do <I>whatever Congress wishes</i> if it can slap the words “General Welfare” on it somehow.
        It helps to remember that the very <I>idea</i> here was to <I>limit</i> the State’s powers. If “promote the General Welfare” was a power, there would be no point to any attempt to limit powers, or to list the enumerated ones – “General Welfare” knows no bounds. (Much like the Commerce Clause seems not to anymore!)

      • Look at the commas, Tim.  “Defense and general Welfare” go together.  They are not independent.   Otherwise, there is no need for the rest of the Constitution in that “general welfare” covers the multitude of sins.

        Rick

      • That’s why there are an odd number of judges on the Supreme Court.

  • I personally don’t care what liberals say, or what the media says, about conservatives. All I know is that The Clown™ and his Minions are becoming more and more unpopular with each passing day, and I believe next November the Demmies will be thrown out of the majority in the House and lose a load of seats in the Senate, and in 2012 The Clown™ will be tossed from the presidency and sent back to Chicago to be lauded by his fellow crooks and thieves in that city.

  • A good example of something I’ve seen many times. Sometimes unconscious, sometimes consciously done, but common, and wrong.

    Assume your opponent has a stance that they don’t – but it must <I>resemble</i> their real stance. (“Fiscal conservatives are against spending on anything”, “Anti-abortion stances are based on thinking that all lives are sacrosanct”.)

    Then point out that <I>your assumed stance</i> does not match the actions of the opponent (without, of course, pointing out that it’s <I>your assumption</i> that you’re trying). (“Fiscal conservatives are for spending on X!”, “Anti-abortion people are often for the death penalty!”)

    Lastly feel or act smug about how awful it is that your opponent is a mean ol’ hypocrite – despite both A) that not actually making them wrong, since hypocrisy is not a counter-argument and B) it being only your assumption that you’ve shown to be incompatible with real people who don’t share it.

    For bonus points, reject as fanciful or goalpost-shifting or the like, any attempt to point out to you how your assumption doesn’t match what “they” actually believe – especially since “they” must be assumed to be incapable of thought or nuance. (After all, people who could think or be subtle would agree with you already!)

    Makes one despair of intellectual communication, really.

  • It is actually a very easy question to answer.  The definition of Fiscal Conservative is: a person opposed to spending on things he or she doesn’t like.  Because that spending adds to the deficit and busts the budget.
    Health care reform is bad so any decent self-respecting Fiscal Conservative will oppose spending on it.
    Escalating the war in Afghanistan is good, so spending on it is not bad for the budget.
    This is how Bush can be revered as a fiscal conservative.  Even though deficits grew enormously under his watch, his spending was on good and worthy things like our Iraq adventure and Medicare Part D.

    • Ummm… who reveres Bush as a fiscal conservative? Aside from the imaginary caricatures of “wingnuts” that so torment Olbermann’s nightmares, I mean.
      As I posted on Dissenting Justice, the vast majority of fiscal conservatives see the responsibility to provide for the common defense as far and away the prime responsibility of the federal government. So “Wars of Necessity” really should be fully funded. Everything after that is up for debate.

      You can dispute this view as erroneous, misguided, or ill-informed, but there’s not any hypocrisy to hang your hat on.

    • Is that what it means? Really?

      And Bush has never been “revered” as a “fiscal conservative”. Unbelievable.

      Perhaps you’re beginning to see why no one takes you seriously. But thanks for stopping by.

    • “This is how Bush can be revered as a fiscal conservative.”

      By who? You are the only one here that has called him a fiscal conservative, as best I can remember. Read Sigivald’s comment.

      • Of course nobody does now. Not since about 2007 when y’all decided that Conservatism hadn’t failed in Bush, Bush had failed Conservatism.  Naturally that was when Bush himself started arguing that he was a fiscal conservative, so he had to veto SCHIP.

        • Lord, you don’t know when to quit do you? With your previous remark we could write it off to ignorance. Now that you’re doubling down with a known falsehood, it becomes something entirely different, doesn’t it?

        • “This is how Bush can be revered as a fiscal conservative.”

          Note the ‘can be’. This is present tense. If you wish to talk about the past, that requires using the past tense. Your local community college probably offers classes in remedial English at reasonable prices. That’s assuming you are out of high school.

        • Not since about 2007 when y’all decided that Conservatism hadn’t failed in Bush, Bush had failed Conservatism.

          Well, since the QandO archives go back to 2004, you ought to be able to find a pre-2007 cite or two to support your claim.  Best get crackin’, there.
           

  • There is a very good video called “The National Debt Road Trip”.  It maps 1 mile to $5.9 billion and one hour to one year, then shows how far and how fast one would cross the country as deficit spending varied .  Up through 1981, the incread in deficit was around 4 mph ( 23.6 B$ /yr).  Harry Truman actual reversed it and was -20 mph ( -118  B$/ yr), though the end of WW II was no doubt a major factor there.  The “speed” during the Reagan years, with a Democratic Congress, was 50 mph.  Geoarge W Bush set a new record at 64 mph.  How’s Obama doing?  174 mph!  As he says in the video, at lot of people can be comforatable at 64 and worried at 174.   And most fiscal conservatives were not comfortable with 64.  (All numbers wee adjusted for inflation).

  • Conservatopic math:  Killing Muslims > Healing Americans