Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fiscal Conservatism Alone?

The Wall Street Journal editorializes about the tea party's "success" in last Friday's budget resolution.
This is getting to be a habit. President Obama ferociously resists tax cuts, trade agreements and spending cuts—right up to the moment he strikes a deal with Republicans and hails the tax cuts, trade agreements and spending cuts as his idea. What a difference an election makes.
This is the larger political meaning of Friday's last minute budget deal for fiscal 2011 that averted a government shutdown. Mr. Obama has now agreed to a pair of tax cut and spending deals that repudiate his core economic philosophy and his agenda of the last two years—and has then hailed both as great achievements. Republicans in Washington have reversed the nation's fiscal debate and are slowly repairing the harm done since the Nancy Pelosi Congress began to set the direction of government in 2007.
Noman can't argue with that.  President Obama is an adept politician, meaning, unfortunately, that he is a great liar and a consummate phony.  Noman does take issue with the following, though.

Yes, we know, $39 billion in spending cuts for 2011 is less than the $61 billion passed by the House and shrinks the overall federal budget by only a little more than 1%. The compromise also doesn't repeal ObamaCare, kill the EPA's anticarbon rules, defund Planned Parenthood, reform the entitlement state, or part the Red Sea...
Now the battle moves to the debt ceiling increase and Paul Ryan's new 2012 budget later this year, and there are lessons from this fight to keep in mind. One is to focus on spending and budget issues, not extraneous policy fights. Republicans have the advantage when they are talking about the overall level of spending and ways to control it. They lose that edge when the debate veers off into a battle over social issues.
We certainly agree that, amid a $1.5 trillion deficit, taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood is preposterous. Let George Soros or Peter Lewis spend their private fortunes to support the group's abortion counseling. But Mr. Boehner was wise to drop the provision on Friday rather than let Mr. Obama portray a shutdown as a fight over abortion rights. If Republicans want to win this fight in the coming months, they need to convince voters that Planned Parenthood funding is a low fiscal priority, not make it seem as if they want to use the budget to stage a cultural brawl.
This point is especially crucial in the looming showdown over increasing the debt limit. Mr. Obama will marshal a parade of Wall Street and Federal Reserve worthies predicting Armageddon if the debt limit isn't raised as early as mid-May. Republicans will play into his hands of they seek to load up any debt limit increase with policies unrelated to spending and debt reduction.
Since when is $330 million unrelated to spending?  And, anyone who thinks that Planned Parenthood's portion of liberals' federal cornucopia is a discrete and isolated chunk is fooling themselves.  The same people are feeding at the government trough under various guises, e.g., health care, community organizing, foreign aid.  Liberals will squawk whenever any and every piece of their pork pie is threatened.  So, conservatives at the WSJ, and elsewhere, had better find their moral voice and get familiar with reasons for taking on social liberals.  They'll be running into them wherever they probe for cuts.

Ultimately, the problem with what the editorial counsels is that it ignores the vital connection between the social and fiscal issues, a connection that Democrats never ignore.  If two years of Democratic hegemony in DC taught us anything, it is that statist priorities, corporatist economics, and the sexual revolution march arm in arm.  They are all components of the culture of death.

Noman has come to appreciate the vital importance of the economic issues to freedom.  From a purely pragmatic perspective, the choice between a party that wholeheartedly loves abortion, hates traditional religion, and wants to take away all his money on the one hand--the Democrats--and a party that harbors some who love abortion, and hate traditional religion, but will let him keep his money--the Republicans--is an easy one.  But, until the first two items are removed from the equation, the choice merely offers the difference between a quick capitulation and a slow capitulation to government domination.  Moral degradation and statism advance together.  Dependence is central and crucial to both of them.

The only coalition capable of straightening out this country's problems will include libertarians and Christians; those who want small federal government and a large sphere of personal liberty, with those who want moral self-governance in both government and persons.  Endlessly deferring the interests of either group is the wrong way to advance the interests of the other, and of the coalition.  Economic conservatives will have to learn to appreciate the vital importance of the social issues to freedom.  That's when the party will really get going.

No comments:

Post a Comment