But before you get terminally depressed, none of this means the New Great Deal Society Party has replaced the Tea Party. In fact, there are reasons to be optimistic that conservative voices around the country – and a strong core of conservative lawmakers in Washington – are laying the groundwork for conservative policy victories.
Just look at the facts.
Last time Congress reauthorized Roosevelt’s Export-Import Bank it was by unanimous consent. In just six short years, it has become a defining issue for the conservative movement. We now have people in Congress willing to make the case against Johnson’s Economic Development Administration. And, the results from Indiana demonstrate the American people are not itching for a return to FDR and LBJ-style governance.
Even in the midst of bipartisan reaffirmation of New Deal and Great Society programs, House Republicans managed to jumpstart a serious conversation on spending, welfare reform and defense. While the reconciliation measure, designed to replace the arbitrary defense cuts contained in last year’s absurd debt deal, fell short in some aspects, Republicans deserve credit for beginning the conversation.
While some conservative lawmakers were quietly apathetic over the limited nature of the reconciliation bill, they can look to the Senate for inspiration. Sounds absurd, right? But this week, the upper chamber is likely to vote on a budget resolution introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), and cosponsored by Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-KY), that would “cut the size of government in half over 25 years.” The budget, based off Heritage’s “Saving the American Dream” plan, instantly becomes the benchmark by which conservatives will measure future reforms.
In any other context, the media would characterize this as a “bold move.” It is unlikely they will be so kind to serious conservatives, though. But what the Senators – and other conservatives realize – is that we cannot keep the New Deal and Great Society alive if we are to save the American dream.