Friday, August 21, 2009

What Happened to Fiscal Conservatism?

Ross Douthat is finally coming into his own as a NYT columnist. This is the kind of thing that I expect from him:

Medicare’s price tag, if trends continue, will make a mockery of the idea of limited government. For conservatives, no fiscal cause is more important than curbing this exponential growth. And by fighting health care reform with tactics ripped from Democratic playbooks, and enlisting anxious seniors as foot soldiers, conservatives are setting themselves up to win the battle and lose the longer war.

Maybe Republicans will be able to cast themselves as the protectors of entitlements today, and then impose their own even more sweeping reforms tomorrow. That’s the playbook that McConnell, Brownback and others seem to have in mind: first, save Medicare from Obama; then, save Medicare from itself.

But for now, their strategy means the country suddenly has two political parties devoted to Mediscaring seniors — which in turn seems likely to make the program more untouchable than ever.

And if you think reform is tough today, just wait. We’re already practically a gerontocracy: Americans over 50 cast over 40 percent of the votes in the 2008 elections, and half the votes in the ’06 midterms. As the population ages — by 2030, there will be more Americans over 65 than under 18 — the power of the elderly and nearly elderly may become almost absolute.In this future, somebody will need to stand for the principle that Medicare can’t pay every bill and bless every procedure. Somebody will need to defend the younger generation’s promise (and its pocketbooks).

Somebody will need to say “no” to retirees.That’s supposed to be the Republicans’ job. They should stick to doing it.

I absolutely agree. This is hypocrisy, sure, but it's also just politically stupid.

If congressional Republicans don't see the logical inconsistency in arguing against "government-run health care"and for Medicare, they've reached a new plateau of cognitive dissonance. They need to be agitating for entitlement reform, not blocking it. What happened to fiscal conservatism?

Despite what some may say, the mantle hasn't been passed on to the Democrats. They appear to be just as eager to run up the debt, without any decent plan to reduce long-term spending.

So, it seems that we now have two parties that are in favor of vastly expanding the size of government when it suits their purpose . . .

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