[Homestead] Big Brother Bush
genegerue at ruralize.com
Wed Feb 9 09:58:40 EST 2005
I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat; I am an American. I espouse
personal responsibility and free opportunity. I favor local control and
states rights. I want the least possible federal government, just enough to
keep us free, safe, healthy, and economically vigorous. As for foreign aid,
I believe that charity begins at home. On those occasions when I have voted
for Republican presidents I did so because the candidates espoused these
values and I figured they would be best for the country. I have not voted
for Bush but I figured he wouldn't do much damage as he was strongly
aligned with a party that favors lower taxes and less federal government. I
was right on the first part and wrong on the second. The question now is
how many conservatives will oppose him on his plans to put Big Brother ever
further into our lives.
Blueprint Calls for Bigger, More Powerful Government
Some Conservatives Express Concern at Agenda
By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 9, 2005; Page A01
President Bush's second-term agenda would expand not only the size of the
federal government but also its influence over the lives of millions of
Americans by imposing new national restrictions on high schools, court
cases and marriages.
In a clear break from Republican campaigns of the 1990s to downsize
government and devolve power to the states, Bush is fostering what amounts
to an era of new federalism in which the national government shapes, not
shrinks, programs and institutions to comport with various conservative
ideals, according to Republicans inside and outside the White House.
Bush is calling for new federal accountability and testing requirements for
all public high schools, after imposing similar mandates on grades three
through eight during his first term. To limit lawsuits against businesses
and professionals, he is proposing to put a federal cap on damage awards
for medical malpractice, to force class-action cases into federal courts
and to help create a national settlement of outstanding asbestos-related cases.
On social policy, the president is pushing a constitutional amendment to
outlaw same-sex marriage in the states and continuing to define and expand
the federal government's role in encouraging religious groups to help
administer social programs such as community drug-rehabilitation efforts.
"We have moved from devolution, which was just pushing back as much power
as possible to the states, back to where government is limited but active,"
said John Bridgeland, director of Bush's domestic policy council in the
first term. Bridgeland and current White House officials see Bush's
governing philosophy as a smart way to modernize the government, empower
individuals and broaden the appeal of the GOP.
Bush maintains a stated desire to streamline the government. On Monday, he
sent Congress a budget that would eliminate or consolidate 150 programs.
But a growing number of conservatives are uneasy with what they deride as
"He keeps expanding the federal involvement into state and local affairs,"
said Chris Edwards, a tax and budget expert at the Cato Institute, a think
tank that often supports the president's agenda. "My hope would be that
there would be an electoral rebuke of big [-government] Republicans like
there was when the tectonic plates shifted in 1994."
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), said: "The Republican majority, left to its own
devices from 1995 to 2000, was a party committed to limited government and
restoring the balances of federalism with the states. Clearly, President
Bush has had a different vision, and that vision has resulted in education
and welfare policies that have increased the size and scope of government."
Pence, an influential leader of House conservatives, said 50 Republicans
gathered in Baltimore this past week and discussed, among other things, an
overwhelming desire to protest the expansion of government by opposing
Bush's education plan for high school students. While only 33 House
Republicans opposed the No Child Left Behind law in the first term, Pence
predicted that a significantly larger number will vote against expanding
the program to cover high schools. Michael Franc of the Heritage
Foundation, a pro-Bush think tank, agreed. "It's a non-starter" in the
minds of a large number of Republicans, he said.
In many ways, Bush is simply accelerating the trend toward a bigger, more
activist government that was started early in his presidency. Bush not only
greatly expanded the federal education system with the No Child Left Behind
law, but he also signed the largest expansion of Medicare benefits when he
added prescription drug coverage to the program in 2003. The Medicare plan
alone is now estimated to cost at least $720 billion over the next decade.
Reacting to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Bush created the
Department of Homeland Security, provided the federal government broad
surveillance powers through the USA Patriot Act, and requested a
significantly larger national defense budget.
All of this is a far cry from Republican dogma circa 1995 -- the year of
the Republican Revolution. Back then, GOP leaders from Sen. Robert J. Dole
(Kan.) to House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) talked of eliminating entire
Cabinet departments, including Education, shrinking government, and
returning power to the states and the people.
"If I have one goal for the 104th Congress, it is this: that we will dust
off the 10th Amendment and restore it to its rightful place in the
Constitution," then-Senate Majority Leader Dole said in his first speech of
January 1995. "We will continue in our drive to return power to our states
and our people." Republicans talked of devolution, ending "unfunded
mandates" and killing government programs with the same zeal they reserve
today for fighting terrorists and restructuring Social Security.
In some areas, Bush has moved to reduce the size of government. The
president signed three tax cuts into law in the first term, shrinking
government receipts; held non-defense discretionary spending to a nominal
increase in last year's budget; and is calling for similar austerity in
this year's budget.
Even so, spending has exploded under Bush -- as have budget deficits. The
government spent $2.3 trillion and ran a $412 billion deficit in 2004,
compared with the $1.8 trillion it spent and the $86 billion surplus it ran
in the final full year of the Clinton administration.
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