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Less Spending is Heresy in the GOP?
Posted by: McQ on Monday, September 26, 2005

That's Robert Novak's take as he tells the story of Mike Pence (R-IN) and his close-door confrontation with the GOP leadership last week. Pence heads the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC). Apparently the conservative values espoused by the RSC have somehow become heretical:
He has tried hard to cooperate with the regular House Republican leadership rather than confront it. So, he could not have been happy last Tuesday when he found himself in a closed-door autodafe, with GOP leaders as the inquisitors and Pence as the heretic.

Pence and the RSC's heresy was to propose that massive federal outlays resulting from Hurricane Katrina be offset by reduced spending elsewhere. Specifically, they requested offsets to cut highway projects earmarked by individual House members, and a delay in implementing President Bush's new Medicare prescription drug subsidy. The negative reaction by the leadership was reflected when Pence, offered a seat at a later meeting, explained that he would be more comfortable standing because House Speaker Dennis Hastert had just tanned his hide.
We've noted here any number of times how the Democrats seem to have become dominated by their extremists. Well, based on what Novak is relating, it appears the GOP leadership is rushing in to fill the void left on the center left by abandoning the conservative principle of less spending.

Wonderful. And of course the cynic might say, "well where are conservatives going to go?"

The answer: nowhere ... to include not going to the polls.

They've done it before. And believing this sort of "triangulation" is going to increase their political advantage speaks to a leadership in the GOP that is truly out of touch with its base constituency.
Pence, Flake and Hensarling met privately with Office of Management and Budget Director Josh Bolten last Thursday and got a warmer reception than they did from their own leadership—up to a point. The president will not permit a hair to be touched on the head of the expensive new entitlement for prescription drugs.

The beleaguered conservatives see all this spending leading inexorably to a tax increase, which would redistribute the tax burden to the disadvantage of the successful and threaten an economic recession. Barry Goldwater long ago assailed Dwight D. Eisenhower for presiding over a "Dime Store New Deal." That stinging rebuke no longer would be appropriate for today's Republicans. They outdo Democrats on pork and are in the same ballpark on entitlements. Even Katrina and now Rita do not restrain them.
Perhaps it is time to begin referring to the GOP leadership as the "New Democrats", because they sure are acting like them. And frankly I think they're digging their own political graves as they continue to emulate big spending Democrats and alienating true conservatives. It isn't going to buy them left of center votes, but it will cost them right of center votes.

It's all about "political economics" and they are spending themselves right out of office.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Republicans have been just hurt in a big way with the Undecided moderates and disenfranchised Old Democrats with the perceived handling of Katrina. They can’t take it out on Bush so it will be taken out the next elections which is congress.

Republicans will need every vote they can get with conservative base. Republicans could get a black eye in 2006.

Long term, they risk a 3rd party or party split. There’s a sizable enough block of traditional republicans or true onservatives (whatever you want to call them), that such a party could exist, albeit initially much smaller than either of the Big Two.
Written By: John
URL: http://
For practical political purposes, the Rs only have to be seen as less spend-happy than the Ds.

For the practical political purposes of the VOTER, one has to notice that sometimes only a D can cut things. It took a Clinton to do welfare reform, for example; no R could possibly have done it, ever. For the other side, it took a Bush Sr. to do a Clean Air Act. The Ds would not have been trusted. It took a Bush Jr. to do public education reform.

Similarly, it may take a Mrs. Clinton to do Social Security reform.

(Imagine me dramatically pausing here for that to sink in a little.)

Written By: Undertoad
Here’s the thing though....the GOP can do this and probably get away with it because the Democrats are simply not an option at this point.

Say what you want about Gingrich, but the Contract With America was a clearly articulated set of alternative goals. The Democrats have not advanced anything besides opposition.

When...if the Dems smarten up, then you’ll see the GOP pay for miscalculations. Until then, I’m not so sure
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Perhaps it is time to begin referring to the GOP leadership as the "New Democrats", because they sure are acting like them.
What about referring to them as the new-GOP, because that’s what they actually are!

or maybe, neogop(?)
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
New Democrats sounds best since they’re acting like circa 1980’s Democrats.
Written By: John
URL: http://
I’d rather vote for 1980’s Democrats than the current 2005 versions. After just hearing and seeing snippets of the "anti-war" rally over the weekend, the fact is I’d vote for anything the opposing party put up, rather than ever see some of these lunatics gain power.

And I bet you that’s exactly what the GOP is counting on.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
So, acting is better than the real thing?

The neoGOPs have to look in the mirror and see that the slim-and-trim GOP of (a make-believe) yesterday is now bigger and more bloated than ever!

Written By: sdk
URL: http://
Perhaps it is time to call them what they are - hypocrites.

Democrats of the 80’s did not run on the platform that they were for smaller government. They never pretended to be something that they weren’t.

But the GOP does precisely that. Remember, according to the GOP, Dems are the socialists who want a 99% tax rate and want to run every aspect of your life. But Bush campaigned on slogan that he was for lower taxes, and hence less government. The entreprenurial economony. And all that BS. And if less government means driving our government deeper into debt and having the government suck up more and more private capital in its wild borrowing spree, then yes, the GOP is the party of smaller government.

The reason the GOP gets away with this hypocrisy is because wingers vote for them. It is that simple. But don’t compare the early 80’s Dems with the current GOP. The early 80’s Dems weren’t liars.
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
These ridiculouse pseudo-comparison’s! What does it matter? Let’s talk about today. If we do that, then the spend-thrift GOP of today are exactly that! They are not Democrat’s, right?! So, take the bad tasting medicine like big boys and girls!
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
I’d rather vote for 1980’s Democrats than the current 2005 versions. After just hearing and seeing snippets of the "anti-war" rally over the weekend, the fact is I’d vote for anything the opposing party put up, rather than ever see some of these lunatics gain power.
Just when I think you can’t get any more Shark-like, you do yourself one better. Tell me, Shark, besides John Conyers and Cynthia McKinney - two members of Congress who definitely don’t have the reins of power in the Democratic Party - how many elected Democratic officials were at the rally?

I’ll give you a hint: none.

But then, facts have never been your strong point.

See, the problem for the GOP is that they want to paint the Democratic party as the "get out now" party. Problem is, especially for folks like yourself, is that no major Dem official is calling for an immediate withdrawal. The GOP lacks a whipping boy therefore, which forces them to make misleading statements such as yours.

Nice try though.
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Some interesting numbers:

1960 through 2002
Michael Kinsley took the statistics off the President’s Economic Report from February to compare the economy historically under Democrat and Republican Presidents.
Real GDP Growth:
Democrat: 4.09%
Republican: 2.75%

Democrat: 5.33%
Republican: 6.44%

Government Spending:
Democrat: 19.58% of GDP
Republican: 20.87% of GDP

But the Republicans spend a lot on defense, so let’s remove that...

Government Spending Without Defense:
Democrat: 13.76% of GDP
Republican: 14.97% of GDP

And it follows...

Deficit Spending:
Democrat: 1.21% of GDP
Republican: 2.74% of GDP

Democrat: 18.39% of GDP
Republican: 18.12% of GDP

Democrat: 3.81%
Republican: 4.85%
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
Why do you think Kinsley chose 1960 as his starting point? What happens with the statistics if you start in 1933 with FDR or 1945 with Truman?
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Problem is, especially for folks like yourself, is that no major Dem official is calling for an immediate withdrawal

That’s quite the brazen lie MK....
Written By: shark
URL: http://
JWG, et al,

How much time is needed to define a trend? My Gosh, the period is longer than my life time! Why not just blame King George for every mistake the USA has ever made?!
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
How much time is needed to define a trend?
So why don’t you look at the graphical trends instead of a combined average? What does that tell you?
Written By: JWG
URL: http://

It tells me that you don’t like the results of this analysis, and you are just being ridiculous. But, give us a link to the graphical results(?), and we’ll take a look-see.

Written By: sdk
URL: http://
MK once again claims
no major Dem official is calling for an immediate withdrawal
We’ve been over this before. Several presidential candidates called for immediate withdrawal. Additionally, in Jan 2005:
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) called on President Bush yesterday to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq after Sunday’s elections and complete the pullout by early next year
In other words, last January Kennedy called for a partial pullout immediately and a complete pullout within one year. Isn’t Kennedy a "major" democrat?
Written By: JWG
URL: http://

How much time is needed to define a trend?
What do the Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton administrations have in common? What do the Nixon-Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 administrations have in common?

Which group enacted price controls, reduced tax rates from 90-70%, enacted import quotas on vehicles, reformed welfare, reformed education spending, started welfare, took us off the gold standard, blah blah blah etc. etc.?

These lists act as if each group of 4 presidencies were identical and shared common idealogies. Bush 41 and Clinton’s administrations have more in common with each other than with Reagan/Bush 43.
Written By: h0mi
URL: http://

I have no problem with your data, it just doesn’t mean much. Each President operated in very different environments and represented beliefs much different than todays party’s. I’ll take two examples.

First Kennedy. Kennedy was the first supply side politician to occupy the Presidency and for that reason a hero of Reagan’s (Kennedy gave speeches on the virtues of marginal tax rate cuts that were right out of Reagan’s playbook, and Reagan and Bush have both borrowed liberally from his playbook.) In most respects he was far to the right on fiscal and economic policy of Bush. We cannot relate him to contemporary Republicans or Democrats. Now I am no supply side enthusiast, at least not the caricature I read about, but if we had a President who wanted to cut marginal tax rates as Kennedy did, while also cutting the size of the state to its 1960 size I would be pretty happy.

Let us then go to Nixon. Nixon engaged in wage and price controls, massive increases in social programs, a huge expansion in environmental and other regulations along with a big government program in general that made LBJ seem reticent. I remember my amazement reading in the late ’80’s a piece in Rolling Stone by George McGovern on the best President since WWII (I think that was the time period but I am not certain.) He chose Nixon because of all the big government programs, wage and price controls, etc. Nixon on substance was the most liberal president we have ever had. Reagan ran for President by campaigning against his legacy within the Republican Party (at the time represented by such figures as John Lindsay and the "Rockefeller wing" or “country club Republicans” of the party. Now the Rockefellers are firm Democrats.) So what does Nixon’s legacy have to do with contemporary post Reagan Republicans? Lindsay would certainly be a Democratic politician today like the Rockefeller’s. So if I am to draw anything from the evidence you present it is that I don’t want the Republicans or people of similar views of the 60’s and 70’s in power and those people are now Democrats.

Conversely, Kennedy had much more in common ideologically with QandO than Howard Dean or his loathsome little brother, so I should look for someone more like him. A much more difficult task, but I doubt he resides in the Democratic Party today, though many have tried to copy the look (see Bill Clinton.)

There are many other problems with attributing the data to specific Presidents (Both Reagan and Bush 43 inherited recessions, though I am not necessarily blaming their predecessors for them. Clinton, Johnson and Kennedy inherited expansions, and I am not necessarily crediting their predecessors either. Nixon inherited an absolute mess which he promptly made worse; he deserves all the blame anyone wants to throw at him.) We also have problems with lag times for policies to be enacted and then more lags for them to have an effect, the composition of the legislature’s they work with, etc. Kinsley’s data is so crudely reductive as to be useless analytically. Try again.
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
It is time for a Republican coup in the U.S. House of Representatives. I nominate Congressman Mike Pence for Speaker. As a card carrying member of the VRWC, I am disgusted with House leadership and their unwillingness to practice ANY fiscal discipline. Ugh.
Written By: Dogwood
URL: http://
Lance, et al

Every (USA) president leads under different circumstances. So, what of it? The idea being perpetuated that the GOP is more fiscally responsible seems to be a myth. The difference is more evidently how (each say) money should be spent.
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
Lance, et al

Kinsley’s data may be debatable, but it usurps the subjective non-data that you present.
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
Lance, et al

I want to retract my choice of words,

Kinsley’s data may be debatable, but it trumps the subjective non-data that you present.
Written By: sdk
URL: http://
I nominate Mike Pence for President in 2008!!! He is the only true Reagan Conservative and he is leading the way in every battle and important issue. The American people must get behind him. Our time has come....
Written By: Aaron Hankins
Mike Pence is in the running for Speaker after Hastert steps down, although that would be an uphill road. He may have a shot at Majority Leader if DeLay fails to retain the confidence of House Republicans, but it looks as though that storm has passed.

What he Congressman Pence does have though, is a fast-growing grassroots network of support accross the nation for his candidacy for president—the Draft Pence Movement. The nominating base of the party will be ready for a guy like Pence in 2008, who actually practices what the Republican Party has been preaching since the Gingrich Revolution.

As chairman of the Republican Study Committee, Pence has consistently stood up for the conservative principles that folks like DeLay come home and tell their district they believe in. The only difference is that Pence actually works to apply such controversial and radical ideas as limited government and fiscal responsibility to our law-making process.

We need to elect a true leader like Mike Pence president in 2008.
Written By: Brian

Can. You. Read? I said your data was fine. It was your interpretation that was meaningless.
The idea being perpetuated that the GOP is more fiscally responsible seems to be a myth.
Wow, given everything we have been saying on this point thanks for going against the grain! Nobody has been pointing that out around here, at least with this Republican President. Nope, nobody. Nobody here would possibly point out what a big spending, paranoid nut case Nixon was. Nobody.

Okay, I’ll can the sarcasm, but the question on the table is whether this President and this congress might be less responsible than the Democrats? I say that is an open question, since the deficit is not the only factor there. Another question might be would some form of divided government be preferable, on the hope that Republicans might find their backbone in opposition? Maybe?

None of which changes the problems with your data.

It lumps vastly different Presidents together in vastly different circumstances. It puts data which has more to do with preceding/succeeding Presidents and credits it to the President in office at the time. So post it all you want, but if you want to make a point you have to take a little time and actually defend how the data is presented or the implications drawn. That would take a rather long time and so here isn’t the place to do it. I didn’t come close to exhausting the number of factors one would have to address to make such an analysis credible by the way. I just wanted to illustrate a few examples of how taking a diiferent view of how to interpret the data could change it dramatically.

So Kinsley’s data doesn’t trump anything since I made no conclusions to trump. I can say that even if everybody was President under identical circumstances, attributing fiscal results to one President who inherits the results of another is illegitimate. Period. It has nothing to do with the question you are trying to address. I don’t care who wins that argument, it is just that your data doesn’t address the question. Given that Presidents do not control the public purse, congress does, it is especially silly.
Written By: Lance
URL: http://

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