What a surprise! Everyone predicted a Republican resurgence. Instead, voters shocked pundits by strengthening the Democratic majority in Congress. President Obama called the result a resounding confirmation of my legislative achievements.Democrats quickly introduced legislation to add a public option to Obamacare; a second, larger "stimulus" bill; a Paycheck Fairness Act; and new card-check and cap-and-trade bills.
OK, I assume that didn't happen. But it's tough to come up with a Wednesday morning column. I write this on Election Day. Polls haven't closed. It might have happened.
Please tell me it didn't.
This was to be the year of the tea party triumph. As a libertarian, I so want to believe that the tea party marks the beginning a comeback for small government.
But I'm probably deluding myself. I know that big government usually wins. Remember the last time the Republicans took power? They promised fiscal responsibility, and for six of George W. Bush's eight years, his party controlled Congress. What did we have to show for it?
Federal spending increased by 54 percent. That?s more than any president in the last 50 years. Much more than the 12 percent increase under Bill Clinton, and it even beat the 36 percent increase under big spender Lyndon Johnson. The number of subsidy programs grew 30 percent, and the regulatory budget grew 70 percent. The private sector shrank, while the government sector grew by 1.6 million jobs.
Bush and the GOP-controlled Congress created a prescription drug entitlement, the biggest entitlement expansion since Medicare. At one point, he nearly tripled the Department of Education budget.
Republicans want another chance, but any sensible person would be skeptical. We saw what happened when Republicans got a taste of power, and it wasn?t pretty. Why should we believe it wouldn't happen again? Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., likely the next chair of the House Education Committee, has already said that he?s not going to abolish the Department of Education.
Republicans anticipated skepticism and tried to address it with the Pledge for America, an echo of the 1994 Contract With America. But the Pledge is modest. It promises no cuts in Medicare, Social Security or the military. That?s where most of the money is. Those programs account for 60 percent of the budget.
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