April 17, 2007

The Party Of Government

John McCain continues his efforts to assume the mantle of fiscal discipline in the Republican presidential primary. In a speech yesterday in Memphis, he assured his audience that a McCain presidency would exhibit responsible stewardship of the nation's treasury -- and scolded Republicans for becoming the "party of government":

Senator John McCain of Arizona acknowledged Monday that his fellow Republicans “forgot who we were” in recent years by spending too much, and said that as president he would rely on low taxes, greater fiscal restraint and free trade to lift the nation’s economy.

Mr. McCain, whose presidential campaign has been viewed with suspicion by some conservatives because of his initial opposition to the Bush administration’s tax cuts, used the first major economic address of his campaign to reaffirm his commitment to the free market but said he would move to overhaul the nation’s unemployment programs to help people find jobs in the new economy. And he had some strong words for the way his fellow Republicans governed when they controlled Congress.

“Worst of all, we forgot who we were: tight-fisted stewards of the federal treasury who keep our priorities straight,” Mr. McCain said in a speech to the Economic Club of Memphis. “We asked Americans to make us the governing party, and we rewarded them by becoming the party of government.”

After complaining that Congress had spent money on an indoor rain forest and studying the DNA of bears in Montana (“without knowing whether we needed to solve a criminal case or a paternity suit”), Mr. McCain restated his support for giving the president a line-item veto. Even without it, though, he pledged vetoes of pork-laden bills that drive up government spending without improving government services.

McCain says nothing in this speech that we haven't said ourselves at CQ. Interestingly, though, other Republican candidates have not said much towards scolding Congressional Republicans for the spending spree that put them out of the majority. McCain seems uniquely poised to do that, thanks to his long record of pork-busting in the Senate.

Of course, some believe him uniquely unqualified, thanks to his long track record of fighting tax cuts. The Club For Growth notes that McCain chose not to support the Bush tax cuts when first offered. McCain has acknowledged that, but promises to keep them from expiring if elected President.

At least McCain is making a campaign issue of fiscal discipline. Not enough Republican candidates have been able to command a national audience for that message. The Republicans did indeed become the party of government after a short span of years in charge, and the reminder of our folly in relinquishing our belief in smaller government for the promise of power is a necessary lesson for repeated deliveries.


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Comments (8)

Posted by BODY GUARDS [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 6:23 AM

/// ...he would move to overhaul the nation’s unemployment programs to help people find jobs in the new economy.
'OVERHAUL' has now become such an OVERUSED, catch-all phrase.

How does he plan to accomplish this?

Does he have esoteric strategies no one else has considered all of these years?

Posted by TokyoTom [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 6:43 AM

The Republicans did indeed become the party of government after a short span of years in charge

That's an understatement, Ed. With only one party to bribe to get the pork spigots turned on, it was a field day for special interests - and now the Dems are fighting to do the same.

Republicans were also the party of in-your-face gerrymandering and adversariality in Congress, as well as the most accommodating rubber stamp that a unilateralistic and power-hungry Administration could want. http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/powersurge_healy_lynch.pdf

Of serious concern is whether we will similar abuses if the Dems also win the presidency in 2008. Good reason to throw support to the efforts of Bob Barr, Bruce Fein, David Keene and Richard Viguerie in recently established "American Freedom Agenda" to start to push for a restoration of checks and balances between the Congress and Presidency: http://www.americanfreedomagenda.org/. http://www.americanfreedomagenda.org/

Posted by Lehosh [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 7:02 AM

"At least McCain is making a campaign issue of fiscal discipline. Not enough Republican candidates have been able to command a national audience for that message."


I wish more candidates would make serious and current issues like fiscal responsibility central to the debate. For some reason (and I know the media has its hand in this of course) the debate so far on the Right has focused inexplicably on abortion. At what point in the last 6 years did abortion suddenly become the token issue again? No one anywhere, not even the supposedly pro-life George W. Bush had even made noise about addressing abortion, yet here we are with a flood of news stories about how such-and-such candidate used to think abortion was fine, or so-and-so can't wait to use taxes to kill babies.

Abortion is fairly important to the people, but the issue is radioactive. No candidate wants to discuss it, much less make new and probably unpopular laws about it. Could there be a more irrelevant issue to the state of the Union right now?

But unfortunately Republicans tend to be very soft on domestic propaganda and have, is a bizarro-world turn of events, allowed the left to shape the right's internal debate.

Posted by patrick neid [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 7:46 AM

the republican congresses from 2000-06 were an embarrassment. in fact i would not be surprised if they are used in the history books as an example of sheer fiscal stupidity and wantonness.

i'm happy with any candidate from the repubs that puts the focus back on fiscal discipline. a tight pocketbook with low taxes guarantees children and grandchildren the country they deserve.

on the downside, with the girls wearings burkas, the number of tomboys will be historically lower!

Posted by marcus [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 11:45 AM


You really ought to pay more attention to Mitt Romney. Mitt has been touting fiscal responsibility forever. In nearly every speech he makes, he talks about it.

At CPAC he promised to hold budgets to inflation minus one. He stated he loves tax cuts. He remarked that he couldn't wait to get his hands on Washington so he can go to work removing waste and mismanagement.

This is a man with a long history of being frugal in both the private and the public sector. He doesn't just talk about reining in spending. He does it. And he has the presuasive power to get people to go along with him.

Posted by Angry Dumbo [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 1:25 PM

Bingo Captain. Unless McCain supports tax cuts McCain's pork busting rhetoric is just more beltway doublespeak which makes his position virtually indistingushable from that of Speaker of the House Pelosi.

To speak of cutting waste without addressing social security and medicare reform or tax cuts is to grab a pail and declare the Titanic seaworthy.

Posted by LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 3:46 PM

You can't "overhaul" the system without making structural changes.

High on the list is undoing the structural change Congress made back in 1972, when they took away the Impoundment power from the President. Of course, what they took away by statute they could restore by statute, but they obviously don't want to. And even if they did, they could just take it away again, so I want a Constitutional Amendment.

Another structural change is putting term limits on Congress, that would:
a. cut down on their incentive to pork.
b. rotate them out before they could be too badly suborned by the beltway culture.
c. make Congress more representative.

While we're at it, I also want to replace the campaign finance laws wholesale with full disclosure laws. Kill McCain/Finegold et al.

Posted by Mwalimu Daudi [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 17, 2007 6:35 PM

Is this not this the same John McCain who traded the First Amendment for McCain-Feingold censorship? The same McCain who opposed the Bush tax cuts? The same McCain who is working to enshrine the bureaucratic hellhole of a "guest worker" program in our national government? The same McCain who is a global warming cultist? The same McCain who led the infamous "Gang of 14" and who succeeded in teaching the now-squandered GOP majority how to roll over and play dead for the MSM and their Democrat pets?

Or am I wrong and is there another John McCain in Congress? Representing the Peoples' Revolutionary Socialist Republic of Vermont, perhaps?