September 22, 2005

Big Spenders


From FoxNews: GOPers Fear Huge Katrina Costs.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland joined other House Republicans Wednesday in proposing $500 billion in spending cuts to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction efforts.

At a news conference Wednesday, the Republican Study Committee launched "Operation Offset," a detailed list of proposed budget savings options so that the reconstruction costs of Katrina, estimated at upwards of $200 billion, will not be passed onto future generations in the form of unmanageable debt. ...

The 20 House Republicans at the news conference highlighted programs that could be either eliminated or reduced. Among the savings options were delaying prescription drug benefits and increasing premiums under Medicare, increasing co-payments for Medicaid and limiting grants for first responders to large, at-risk communities.

See InstaPundit for the latest on the blogosphere's Pork Busters campaign (some background here and here).

The Wall Street Journal has been covering this issue well:

The GOP's New New Deal; The bill for Katrina may fall due next November by Stephen Moore.

Conspicuously missing from the post-Katrina spending debate is a question for some brave soul in Congress to ask, What is the appropriate and constitutional role here for the federal government? Before the New Deal taught us that the federal government is the solution to every malady, most congresses and presidents would have concluded that the federal government's role was minimal. One of our greatest presidents, Democrat Grover Cleveland, vetoed an appropriation for drought victims because there was no constitutional authority to spend for such purposes. Today he would be ridiculed by Ted Kennedy as "incompassionate." ...

Alas, in the world of compassionate conservatism, the quaint notion of limited federal power has fallen to the wayside in favor of an ethic that has Uncle Sam as first, second and third responder to crisis. FEMA, despite its woeful performance, will grow in size and stature. So will the welfare state. Welcome to the new New Dealism of the GOP.

Both political parties are now willing and eager to spend tax dollars as if they were passing out goody-bags to grabby four-year-olds at a birthday party. The Democrats are already forging their 2006 and 2008 message: We will spend just as many trillions of dollars as Republicans, but we will spend them better than they do. After witnessing the first few Republican misappropriations for Hurricane Katrina, the Democrats may very well be right.

We're All in the Same Bloat; Republicans have abandoned small government. Why shouldn't voters abandon them? by Brendan Miniter.

This isn't all Katrina's fault. Republicans have been kidding themselves for years that they are still the stewards of fiscal conservatism and limited government. The Medicare prescription drug plan is just one example. Run down the list of the some 80 federal entitlements--including Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, Pell Grants and so much more--and it becomes clear that little has been done to take these massive programs off of spending autopilot. Welfare reform and Freedom to Farm in the 1990s were nice, but what has the GOP done lately? In many cases Republicans have ramped up spending and then bragged about it.

Cuts for Katrina editorial.

The idea of a pork-for-reconstruction swap had already been denounced as "moronic" by a spokesman for Don Young of Alaska, Chairman of the House Transportation Committee and proud father of the now-infamous $223 million "bridge to nowhere" near Ketchikan. Since then the White House and Congressional Republican leadership have been acting as if the cost of Katrina relief should have no impact on the course of an administration that has presided over the fastest growth in discretionary spending since Lyndon Johnson.

But thankfully, a grassroots Internet campaign and a handful of House GOP conservatives have refused to give up on the idea that spending cuts should be found to defray the estimated $200 billion federal price tag for hurricane relief.

UPDATE -- Sept. 25: From Mark Steyn: Politicians not giving us much of a choice (via Dick Erixon).

American politics seems to have dwindled down to a choice between a big government party and a big permanently-out-of-government party. ...

Big-time Republicans tell me Bush's profligacy is doing a great job of neutralizing the Dem advantage in the spending-is-caring stakes. This may have been true initially -- in the same sense as undercover cops neutralize a massive heroin-smuggling operation by infiltrating it. But, if they're still running the heroin operation five years later, it looks less like neutralization and more like a change of management.

Posted by Forkum at September 22, 2005 05:14 PM