Last month, Mike Huckabee told an NPR reporter unequivocally that it "is not the purpose of government to prop people up from every poor decision they make." Amen, Rev. Huckabee. But at the New Hampshire debate, he sheepishly avoided tough pronouncements and instead voiced support for President Bush's Hillarycare-Lite housing bailout approach since it "didn't involve tax dollars." Yet.
Huckabee is comforting himself and his followers with semantic self-delusion. The Bush measures, including a subprime interest-rate freeze, a proposed expansion of the freeze to cover prime-rate borrowers, and a push to increase the availability of so-called jumbo mortgages and lift the $417,000 loan cap, are the camel's nose under the tent. Eventually, responsible taxpayers will pay.
As for "Straight Talk" Sen. John McCain, he immediately pitched federal education and job training programs for laid-off workers. "We need to go to the community colleges and design education and training programs so that these workers get a second chance. That's our obligation as a nation." It is? This is conservative? This is the alternative to Clintoncare? No, this is Clintoncare. Why can't Americans be expected to pay for their own schooling and retraining?
Fred Thompson, supposedly the conservative's conservative, asserted the need for a fiscal stimulus: "I think that has to be considered somewhere along the line if the economy calls for it."
McCain and Romney want expansion of the Federal Housing Administration to allow borrowers to refinance -- on the backs of taxpayers. Rudy Giuliani wants government aid for borrowers who were "cheated." No word on what he would do to borrowers who did the cheating.
As we head toward Super Tuesday, the subprime mess and the economy will dominate -- and the Do Something Democrat candidates will turn their spigot of overextended homeowner sob stories on full blast. Do Republicans want a clear alternative to liberal-nomics? Or will you settle for a lip-service conservative who will reward fiscal recklessness with only slightly less government intervention than the Dems?