Tuesday, December 09, 2003
Is George Bush a conservative?
I would also argue this assessment is mostly correct and offer the following reasons on why Bush is not a traditional conservative in many areas. First, philosophically he is not a free-trader, but more interested in what helps him politically hold power. The two best examples of this include the steel tariffs and farm subsidies. Second, this administration attempts to torpedo civil liberties at every turn. Third, his twin forays into international activism in either nation building or regime change have never been part of the conservative foreign policies portfolio. Forth, he has no problem expanding government if it serves his purposes domestically. The Medicare drug benefit is one such example. Earlier this year, I wrote about the Santa Claus President and I believe this still to be the most descriptive term for him. Lastly, GW is doesn’t mind either government regulation and/or deregulation, not based on principle, but to the extent it helps his favorite corporate / special interests. No government give away is too big for his friends in corporate America.
The one area where Bush is a conservative is in his view of balance budgets. Most conservatives believe in starving the budget to prevent increases in social spending and infrastructure investment. Conservatives use budget deficits to create crisis in order to force cuts in those areas.
So yes, the record is fairly clear that George Bush is not a principled conservative, but instead governs with two goals in mind; rewarding the special / corporate interests who support him or creating a government program to help re-elect his administration.
At least Clinton did have a philosophy that he rigidly stuck by. His administration believed by reducing deficits almost to an obsession. Yes, he was helped by a Republican congress in part, but this only was a part. What Clinton missed the opportunity to do was to translate those large budget surpluses into infrastructure investments and R&D (like he had originally planned in 1992). This was the third way, don’t use the surpluses for the “Welfare” state, but instead put revenue into building infrastructure that helps middle-class Americans compete globally. This is a 180-degree difference from how Bush wants Americans to compete in the global marathon. The wealthiest of Americans should be allowed to ride the Rolls-Royce to mile 26.2, while middle class workers should be sent out on crutches to face the rest of the world’s workers supported by their governments.