Imagine, for a moment, you’re back in 2000. A visitor from the present day arrives and tells you that Washington is spending almost $22,000 per household, the most since World War II and one third higher than it was in 2001. Your reaction?
If you’re like most conservatives, you’d probably say, “I guess the liberals won.”
We know otherwise. And that makes the spending impossible to explain. In fact, some people wind up sounding a bit foolish. They’ll sheepishly admit that, yes, budget mistakes have been made. But, they say, we’ve simply drifted off course.
Sorry, but that explanation (or, I should say, rationalization) won’t wash with Mike Pence. The third-term congressman from Indiana and head of the Republican Study Committee recently delivered a hard-hitting address to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that demolishes such misguided thinking. Among the highlights:
It’s one thing to drift off course. It’s another to continue that course when half the crew and passengers are pointing out that nothing looks familiar, not to mention the tens of millions of Americans lining the shoreline screaming, “You’re going the wrong way!”
In short, we’re no longer adrift. We might’ve been when we started, but now “off course” is the accepted course.
The evidence is overwhelming. While President Bush has called for increases in non-defense spending of 4 percent for the last five years, Congress has delivered budgets spending more than twice that each year. Congress has spent $380 billion more than the president requested under Republican control.
We are in danger of becoming the party of Big Government. And for the sake of our party and for the sake of the nation, we must say, “The era of big Republican government is over!”
When I think of the state of our movement in Washington, it reminds me of a story:
There was this construction worker, Mac, who’d bring his neatly and lovingly packed lunch to work each day. Mac would sit down, open the brown paper sack and pull out a cheeseburger, chocolate cake and peanut butter cookies. He’d look at his fellow workers and complain, “I can’t believe it! A cheeseburger, cake and cookies again! How am I ever going to lose weight?!”