Sunday, September 25, 2005

Fiscal Conservative

Snip from conversation with syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks:
DAVID BROOKS: They are upset for a lot of reasons. Some of it is Katrina - anger just with reaction. A lot of it is that. Again Katrina is always the end of a long accumulation of events and for conservatives on spending, you have got a highway bill which was ridiculous, a travesty of pork barrel spending; you had an Ag bill; you had really five years in which George Bush has spent money at a faster clip than Lyndon Johnson.

JIM LEHRER: Say that again.

DAVID BROOKS: Domestic discretionary spending - non-defense spending - non-homeland security spending -- has increased.

JIM LEHRER: Non-Social Security, none all of those things -

DAVID BROOKS: -- has increased under George W. Bush twice as fast as under Bill Clinton, and faster than under Lyndon Baines Johnson. Conservatives didn't expect that in 2000. I guarantee you that. A lot of it is, frankly, the Republican Congress's fault. If you look back - when we look back on this period, we are going to look at a Congress that came preaching limited government but just has gone hog-wild in spending, and a president who never disciplined members of his own party to restrain themselves.

So there's just a lot of built-up anger and symbolically I think for a lot of conservatives there has to be what they call offsets, which are budget cuts to compensate for the cost -

JIM LEHRER: Of Katrina, of Rita --

DAVID BROOKS: And what we were about to say.

JIM LEHRER: Or Iraq or whatever.

DAVID BROOKS: Right.

JIM LEHRER: What's your view of this, Mark?

MARK SHIELDS: I have seen this movie before, Jim. The first 200 years of the United States, seven wars, Louisiana Purchase, expansion of the continent, the Great Depression; we ran up a total indebtedness of 1 trillion dollars.

In 12 years from 1980 to 1992, under Republican presidents promising to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse, which is the term I heard again this week, we saw that national debt quadruple. It became an issue in the '92 campaign on balanced budgets raised by Ross Perot and the consequence was that Bill Clinton, Democratic president, working with the Republican Congress left George Bush with a budget surplus.

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