Friday, September 23, 2005

The End of Big-Government GOPism?

Many people confuse the terms "conservative" and "Republican." Conservativism is the idealogy; Republican is the party. Not all conservatives are Republican; not all Republicans are conservative.

What we're seeing right now, I believe, is the beginning of a revolt of conservatives against the GOP. Blogosphere initiatives like Porkbusters is the latest salvo.

I find it ironic that when Christians write and speak about government, they usually do so either in the context of justice or compassion. But few consider fiscal irresponsibility something worth complaining about.

Here his how Tim Chapman begins his latest column:

Americans get it. A national crisis like Katrina requires sacrifice.

Since Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast over three weeks ago, Americans have donated over $1 billion in relief funds. At the rate of current giving, Americans are set to exceed charitable contributions donated after the September 11 attacks and the tsunami of 2004.

When Americans give their money, they give from what they have and they do with a little less. Those donating do not intend for their children or grandchildren to foot their bill. They are giving on behalf of themselves - it is an individual sacrifice to help their fellow Americans.

Now the question is: Is Congress willing to make similar sacrifices?

Having recently voted to appropriate more than $62 billion to fund Katrina recovery efforts and with a looming final price tag near $200 billion, Congress is now debating how to actually pay for all this spending.

The track record is not good. Federal spending currently tops $22,000 per American household; and since 2001, the federal government has expanded in size by 33 percent. Some estimates have the federal deficit topping $500 billion by 2008 and $873 billion by 2015. How much money is this?

According to budget analyst Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation, it is enough to "dump the largest debt in world history into the laps of the next generation. Within a decade, tax increases would need to reach $7,000 per household (a 37 percent tax hike) just to balance the budget."

But the real debate isn't happening in Congress as a whole - it is unfolding within the Republican Party. The debate will shape the future of the GOP. If Republicans - the one-time party of small government and fiscal restraint -- cannot support spending cuts now, then they will officially signal their abandonment of fiscal conservatism, a once valued part of the Republican platform.

I know I say this with everything I link to, but this time I really mean it: read the whole thing!