Conservative Betrayal

Discussion in 'Politics' started by KenH, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. KenH

    KenH
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    This is a great column from today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Since one had to be a subscriber to read it online, I am posting the entire column:


    Conservative betrayal
    Dana D. Kelley

    "If we break this contract," 367 Republican U.S. House of Representatives candidates declared 11 years ago this week, "throw us out."

    They were referring to the Contract With America, a political document that analysts at the time thought would go down as one of the most significant developments in American political history.

    Well, at least the metaphor was right. It went down all right. It went so far down that by its 10th anniversary during the presidential campaign last year, it had fallen completely off the political radar screen. Its place in political oblivion was sealed when one of its chief architects, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, quipped that "the contract is about the past."

    Ah, yes, the past. Funny how it’s always with us. Current Republican Party leaders need to take a long and reflective look back at the not-so-long-ago past before it repeats itself.
    It seems hard to believe now that as recently as 1993, Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and the House represented a Democratic dynasty. The lower chamber’s Democratic domination had meant 40 years in the wilderness for House Republicans.

    The Contract With America was devised to consolidate conservative positions into 10 specific, practicable legislative objectives. Extensive polling at the time showed a minimum support of 60 percent for every single item in the contract, which captured popular sentiment by dealing both in details (like the same rules applying to members of Congress as well as to regular citizens) and broad philosophy (like welfare reform).

    Congressional Democrats had their own issues, what with House bank and post office scandals and President Bill Clinton’s failed health care plan, and expected some backlash. But the 54-seat gain by Republicans in the House surprised everybody and was fueled by far more than just disdain with the ruling party. It represented a triumph of common-sense conservatism and demonstrated that such philosophy could cross party lines.

    True to their very fresh pledge, and led by Gingrich along with 73 freshmen GOP members, Republicans brought each Contract With America agenda item to a House vote within the 104th Congress’s first 100 days. Nine of the 10 items passed; only the constitutional amendment for term limits, which required a two-thirds majority, was rejected. The Heritage Foundation reported that of 302 roll call votes related to the Contract With America, conservatives prevailed on 299 of them. Overall, the average margin of victory on contract items was 70 percent—a remarkable figure, since Republicans outnumbered Democrats in the House by only 12 seats.

    If somebody took a poll today, I doubt 10 percent of Americans would even remember the Contract With America. Or the invitation on the U.S. Capitol steps to toss the signers all out if they turned out to be rascals in conservative clothing. But the time has come for a remembrance and a reckoning. The GOP that sold itself as the conservative party back in 1994 has reneged on its promises and its principles.

    While the GOP senatorial candidates didn’t officially endorse the contract, Republicans certainly benefited by party association with it and owe the majority they achieved in the Senate to its principles as well.

    One of the biggest barometers of conservative achievement is the size of the federal government, and by this measure alone House Republicans deserve being tossed. Republicans used to ridicule Clinton when he said, "The era of big government is over," while presiding over the biggest federal budgets of all time. Now they have emulated him in spades.

    The House is charged with appropriations, which is why it was fitting for conservatives in 1994 to focus on fiscal responsibility, which meant both a smaller federal government and a balanced budget. Right now, we have neither (and worse, no real hope of either). It’s difficult to imagine that Democrats would have increased the federal budget more than the Republican Congress has in the past five years (from $1.8 billion in 2001 to $2.48 billion this year). Republicans in the House, where spending bills originate, are 100 percent accountable for that 37 percent hike. Tax cuts are good conservative policy, but they carry the accompanying responsibility of spending cuts.

    House conservatives have abrogated their duty, and the result has been the deficits they once decried when Democrats overspent. They have forgotten and broken the contract in spirit if not letter (since they technically dealt with all 10 agenda items). They told us to throw them out, and we should oblige them.

    One explanation for their slide away from the policies and philosophies that earned them their seats could well be President Bush’s own desertion of conservative principles. He has put absolutely no pressure on Congress to keep spending in check, having used his veto power zero times in five years. His promise to spend "whatever it takes" to rebuild New Orleans while the country’s finances are already stretched by a dubious (at best) war effort is anything but conservative. After hearing the administration mention $200 billion in federal relief funds, Louisiana congressmen promptly asked for $250 billion.

    Where is the conservative outrage over this? Conservatives in America need another contract, or better yet, another party that will pledge fidelity to its core beliefs. The Republican one has betrayed them—and us.

    Dana D. Kelley is a free-lance writer from Jonesboro.

    This story was published Friday, September 30, 2005
     
  2. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy
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    Neither political party and no region of the country wants to give up their share of the pork. The people think that they can vote themselves rich by voting money out of the federal treasury for their pet projects. Indianapolis, for example, is getting $12.5 million from the highway bill to put a new entry way on the Children's Museum. Also, we are getting a new expressway from Indianapolis in the center of the state to Evansville on the Ohio River near Illinois. It is called the NAFTA highway.

    In Alaska, they are building a $200 million bridge to an island with 50 people. Why not just make them all millionaires and call it quits?

    Reagan tried to get rid of Rural Electrification, a Depression era program to bring electricity to farmers. Most farmers have had electricity since 1940 but the program goes on.

    Bush will do nothing. With Frist under investigation and DeLay gone, Bush has his hands full with the war, the hurricanes, and another judge.

    We are going to muddle through.

    Wait until 2008 to see if the American people repent this huge national debt and these high taxes and this big government.
     
  3. fromtheright

    fromtheright
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    I'm not sure who are the addicted and who are the enablers, the voters or the politicians.
     
  4. church mouse guy

    church mouse guy
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    The voters are the addicts. They think that they are getting something for nothing. The politicians do the people's will and enrich themselves and their friends thereby. The people are improvident and panic easily. We need more men like Lt. Gen. Russ Honore to tell them don't get stuck on stupid.

    It is in the public's longterm interest to have taxes cut deeply and the size of the government reduced. I mean how can a person live la dolce vita with half his money going to government? The government takes more of a man's money than his wife does.... [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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