Newt Gingrich Highlights Republican Futility On Spending
May. 26 2011 – 4:57 pm | 706 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments
By BILL FLAX
The recent tiff between Rep. Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich is discouraging. Gingrich described Ryan’s plan to offer more choices for certain Medicare benefits as “right-wing social engineering” and “too big a jump.” Realizing he needs to win the primaries before revealing his statist leanings, Gingrich quickly retracted his comments.
Like most career politicians, he’s for or against whatever policies and programs boost his election chances. But Newt blew it. And now you see why President Barack Obama rarely risks speaking without his traveling teleprompter.
Last year the Tea Party propelled Republicans espousing limited government to victory. While many Republican freshmen have maintained their fidelity to fiscal discipline, the party’s establishment remains firmly entrenched in big government. We still eagerly await progress on those promised spending cuts.
Former Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott infamously admitted he sought to “co-opt them” once the Tea Partiers arrived in Washington. Charging the ramparts is challenging enough without an eye to the rear fearing friendly fire. Have they no scruples? Democrats at least acknowledge their fixation on government for government’s sake.
Perhaps we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but any spending cuts that do materialize will likely derive more from gridlock than party purity. Republicans parlay free market principles into votes, but rapidly mutate into big spenders once they too can dispense from the public purse.
Few politicians display any spending inhibitions; it’s not their money. Washington doesn’t care how much it fritters away. When programs fail, Congress increases their budget to waste still more. Democrats spend your money to buy your vote and Republicans do too.
Both parties champion the vast, federal welfare state and advocate government solutions to social problems better solved privately. A majority of federal spending is now programmatic. Entitlements encompass well over half of the budget. Even as these spending shenanigans were chiefly conceived by Democrats the prescription drug benefit in 2003 bore Republican blame.
The major parties frolic down the same ruinous path. One sprints and one skips, but the difference is in their gait, not their goals. So long as Republicans meekly propose alternative methods to accomplish Democrat’s socialist priorities, spending will relentlessly rise. Medicare begat Obamacare and unless this train turns around the future beckons fully socialized medicine.
Republicans are worthless regarding spending unless they represent the opposition party. It’s part seedy opportunism – they say what will get them elected, but do what will get them re-elected – and partly because much of America’s opinion is shaped by forces hostile to free markets.
Republicans cater to the media more than serve their constituents. They cower before the press knowing those steering public perceptions will lambast them if they actually curtailed the growth of government. The few brave statesmen seeking fiscal restraint swim upstream against the media, education establishment and entertainment industries.
In 1995, then-Speaker Gingrich famously “shut down” government. Actually its pace of expansion merely slowed, but the media crucified Republicans. Seeing a park ranger on the nightly news struggling to feed his family while furloughed during a budget impasse makes powerful theater. Many Republicans lost both their nerve and the principles that may have once guided them.
But even as Gingrich touts his fiscal accomplishments today, federal spending and the national debt increased annually throughout his tenure. Washington employed shameless accounting gimmicks like borrowing from Social Security to congratulate itself for a surplus, but government certainly never shrunk during the Clinton/Gingrich years.
Nor do Republicans govern effectively. They are incapable of fixing the bureaucratic quagmire largely because it is incapable of being fixed. In the free market, producers must satisfy customers to profit. Publicly funded social programs administered by tenured sinecures are not subject to this performance feedback loop. Government programs persist with expanded budgets regardless of whether they satisfy taxpayers.
Remember the Walter Reed scandal castigating the Bush Administration’s faulty handling of healthcare for veterans. The media frothed with delight at embarrassing Republicans, but such will be everyone’s fate if government manages medicine. The same pundits ridiculing Bush frequently call for Washington to ruin all our care in like fashion.
Walter Reed didn’t just happen on Bush’s watch because Republicans are indifferent to suffering veterans. These shameful conditions fomented for decades in a system notorious for deplorable service customary in government, but unimaginable in the private sector. The press reports are muted with their love interest occupying the White House, but Washington can’t provide healthcare efficiently.
Democrats perform even worse. What kind of party would nominate a presidential candidate with mentors like Jeremiah Wright, friends like Bill Ayers and political allies like Tony Rezko? Despite emerging from the cesspool of Chicago politics they shamelessly even packaged him as a political ingénue.
Try this experiment: mention to your Democrat friends any of Obama’s many scandals, decry the egregious waste of the failed stimulus bills or bemoan the wreckage wrought by liberal policies.
You’ll likely hear in rebuttal about Democrats’ good intentions. As if creating cycles of dependency in low income areas is compassionate; or doing so to garner political power is well intended. Then you’ll hear that Republicans are just as corrupt, also spend too much (see invading Iraq) and their solutions stink too.
True, politics attracts sleazy characters. Power corrupts. Buying votes with taxpayers’ hard won money is contemptible. But ask your friends why they favor entrusting control over healthcare, education, retirement and so many other vital concerns to the very bunch they just condemned?
History shows Republicans are marginally less corrupt and squander slightly less than Democrats. With Republicans in complete control, spending soared. When Democrats assumed power, spending soared still higher. But this stems from the liberal press stymieing Republicans more than anything resembling adherence to principles.
Voters generally must choose the lesser evil. We navigate between wasteful programs; brands of counterproductive social engineering or the least slimy political charlatans. Both parties are corrupt, spend too much and their schemes regularly falter. But it’s not really a question of which party will waste what on which initiative or appears less incompetent.
The real question is why we yield so much power to politicians?