Getting back to principles

Posted: Nov 24, 2005 12:05 AM

Suddenly, everyone's a fiscal conservative. Virtually every Republican friend I have is talking about the desperate shape of the Republican Party. They cite President Bush's sagging numbers in the polls and begin to recount their sudden interest in the "out-of-control" spending by Congress.

 This is not an "I told you so" column, but then again, maybe it is. The Republican Party didn't get to its current low point in public opinion surveys overnight. Throughout this past year, I have written various columns addressing, in essence, the major components that now comprise absolutely horrible opinion ratings for both the president and the Republican-held House and Senate. As I have noted before, when I write on these topics, some "conservative" papers or outlets often choose to avoid offering those columns to their readers. That's a shame, because their readers are now echoing the concerns that I described just after the president began his second term.

 This column is not meant to bash President Bush, Republican congressional leadership or the war in Iraq. And, as I often note, Democrats will find no solace in this space, as they offer no cogent solutions to the problems plaguing the nation. That having been said, there are times when the public begins to sense desperation, even in spite of a soaring stock market and an economy recovering from the blow of Hurricane Katrina. I began to sense where we were headed a while ago:

 (From March 25, 2005) "Over the past few years, Republican legislators and Congress appear to be running contrary to perhaps the most important precept of the GOP and conservative movements. We are seeing more and more intervening, regulating and imposing of new policies at every turn.  … Republican legislators and lawmakers need to step back and closely examine whether many of these actions are truly rooted in the philosophy of less government and more personal responsibility, or whether they are in fact sops to special interest groups and narrow (but significant) voting blocs whose electoral clout may eventually fade."

 Note: Suddenly, even conservative talk show hosts are focusing on the endless regulation and red tape that seem to be flowing out of Washington, D.C., and (in some instances) out of various state governments as well, even in states where Republicans dominate both the governor's office and state legislatures.

 (From Aug. 20, 2005) "Democrats shouldn't oppose a policy just because a GOP president sponsored it. And Republicans shouldn't snuggle up to the pharmaceutical industry, thereby keeping seniors from finding new and cheaper ways to obtain drugs just so the GOP can rake in more campaign contributions.

 What's called for is the hardest thing for our politicians -- new solutions for old problems. It's time to get real."

 NOTE: Those who follow this column know that I have been harping on the outrageous spending and creation of new entitlements, which have ironically come from a Republican-led administration and Congress. I am in no way surprised that Republicans are suddenly writing commentary and voicing concern over the ultimate and obvious crisis that will occur when the giveaways and the expenditures require abandoning the ultimate cornerstone of the modern GOP: lowering taxes. If you want evidence, consider these comments:

 (From Oct. 16, 2005) "President Bush's tax reform commission's … recommendations … are a sellout of most fiscally conservative beliefs and will provide more ammunition for what could be the coming decade's biggest political shake-up -- the emergence of a viable Independent Party in America. For those not familiar with the commission's recommendations, consider its two biggest proposed changes: drastically reducing deductions on mortgages; and reducing the amount that employers may deduct for providing health insurance and other benefits.

 Both are tax increases.

  … These are dangerous times for both Republicans and Democrats. The GOP keeps shying away from measures that would energize the fiscally conservative base that brought large swaths of voters to its side over 20 years ago with coalitions like the 'Reagan Democrats.''"

 As we head into the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas will race by, and we will soon find ourselves making New Year's resolutions. My hope for the Predestined, the Republican-led congress and the Republican-controlled states is that they will begin to examine how far from the core concept of fiscal responsibility, which is the critical element of the Republican Party's success, they have drifted. It's not too late to reverse courses, but the American public will need a substantial amount of evidence to turn around its collective opinion. My hope for the Democratic Party is that it will actually find a philosophy that mainstream America can accept.