September 16, 2006


Republican Voters Dismayed by Biggest Spending Rise Since 1990 (Brian Faler, 9/15/06, Bloomberg)

Republican voters are angry, not for the first time, at big-spending politicians in Washington. This year, their wrath is aimed at their own party.

The Republican-controlled Congress heads into the Nov. 7 elections having increased federal spending this year by 9 percent -- the most since 1990 -- to about $2.7 trillion, according to projections from the White House Office of Management and Budget. The agency estimates government spending will grow to 20.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2006 from 18.5 percent when President George W. Bush took office in 2001.

``We've strayed a long way from the principles the party was founded upon,'' said Representative Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican.

Mr. Flake could get us back to within spitting distance of that 18.5% by just eliminating all of the Defense and National Security spending we've undertaken since 9-11. Unfortunately for him, not reacting at all to the Islamicists is hardly consistent with GOP principles. Imagine trying to tell Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan that they were spending too much to defeat slavery and Communism to be considered good Republicans?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2006 9:08 AM

Your earlier post citing "Katrina Benefits" for Dems, and this post go hand in hand.

Clocking in at $122 billion, the "benefit" of Katrina for Democrats was for Republicans (Bush as well) to kowtow to the "throw money at the problem" ideology.

Having briefly met Flake, I'm sure he knows the differenct between real security spending (Iraq) and engines of waste (like the DHS, TSA and Katrina Debit cards).

Republicans (the one who aren't sleepwalking suburban numbnuts) are informed enough to know that the leadership had the power to rein in some of these abuses, and consciously did the opposite in an attempt to buy votes.

As a resident of IL, I can attest to what happens when Republican act like Democrats (spend us to oblivion).

Such spending will get you a few years in office, but the party's base will erode, as they are different in outlook and lifestyle than the blue base, which thrives off spending.

DC Republicans think they can buy the electorate the way the Dems did for decades. It may work for a while. But trading principled voters (advocates of smaller government) for unprincipled voters (pigs who will vote for the highest bidder) is no bargain.

I don't subscribe to the nostrum that Rs need to lose the house to "get religion." However, I no longer give a dime to the party, but I'll send Flake a check the minute he looks like he's in tough race.

Posted by: Bruno at September 16, 2006 10:24 AM

No, the monetary benefits went to the GOP, which got to experiment with Third Way ideology. Spending money always benefits the party that's governing, though $122 billion it too miniscule to do much good.

The only benefit to Democrats was that consumers were pissed off about gas prices. With gas headed back under $2 a gallon Katrina is a nullity.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2006 10:34 AM


The point is you're attributing a viewpoint to Rep. Flake that he doesn't hold, and then criticizing him for it. He surely understands the necessity for national security and defense spending. He would argue -- and this in itself might be correct or incorrect -- that we ought to cut spending elsewhere and focus on things he views as more important.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 16, 2006 3:25 PM

I, I, I, me, me, me. Libertarianism in a nutshell, but not the principles of the GOP.

The party has been disciplined in controlling spending other than defense and has lowered federal incomes tax to the lowest share of GDP since 1950.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2006 3:33 PM

The party has been disciplined in controlling spending other than defense

OK, Orrin has now officially lost contact with reality...!

Seriously though, is there any Republican or conservative politician or commentator who believes this, other than maybe Ted Stevens? If so, they're outnumbered about 25 to 1 by the ones who disagree.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 16, 2006 4:09 PM


What does what they believe have to do with it? As the story says spending overall will have gone up by 2% of GDP. That is all accounted for, if not more than accounted for, by the increases in defense/national security (the Defense budget alone accounts for a full 1%--remember, the Peace Dividend had gotten us down to just 3% of GDP being spent there) and non-discretionary spending.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2006 4:17 PM

Is nice to know that the new Democratic majority in Congress next year (They will take Congress in November), will have a vote of full unconditional support from all Right Wingers out there.

Democrats are known to be the best spenders money can buy... Right Wingers don't mind spending any more.... A marriage made in Heaven or Hell you be the judge.

As for me I know that when the Democrats start spending money, the Right Wing will all of the sudden rediscover their seal for fiscal responsibility. I believe that is called unadulterated hypocrisy don't you?

Save the post for next year and see if I was wrong.

Posted by: gil at September 16, 2006 4:27 PM

How would they get a big spending bill through the Senate and past the president? A Democratic congress can sit on presidential appointments, but not legislate.

The one thing that would get done is the President's immigration amnesty, which makes a Democrat majority nearly worth it.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2006 5:07 PM

OJ: So non-defense spending is "only" up by 1% of the GDP, and that counts as "discipline"? What would profligate spending look like? It's a small percent but a titanic chunk of money, all of it taken from productive private use and instead largely wasted and contributing to the ratchet effect of government spending: easy to increase, but almost impossible to ever halt or decrease.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 16, 2006 5:12 PM

Yes, national security and war expenditures that don't get counted in Defense, SS/Medicare, etc. are the other 1%. None or next to none of it is discretionary.

20.5% is still so low for a developed nation as to be remarkable and as the WoT winds down that 2% will be shaved again. Indeed, the entire balancing of the budget in the Clinton years was just the 3% of GDP cut from National Security. The Flakes are upset about spending that's going to the war, hardly a principled Republican stance.

Posted by: oj at September 16, 2006 5:28 PM


Great, but criticize him for his misperception, not for a view he doesn't hold. I don't think his problem is with military spending or national defense.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 17, 2006 12:57 AM

"Republicans (the one who aren't sleepwalking suburban numbnuts) are informed enough to know that the leadership had the power to rein in some of these abuses, and consciously did the opposite in an attempt to buy votes."

Bruno, you've shown yourself to be a man with some pretty energetic ideas about changing the status quo, especially when it comes to education. If you ever want to know why you can never make any headway on getting those ideas implemented, that paragraph is a larger reason why than any other obstacle you complain about.

Aside from violating basic notions of respect or courtesy with that statement, please keep in mind that those suburbanites are highly paid, have nice, high-priced homes, and pay lots of taxes. More so than any liberal urbanite or conservative small-town folk do.

You can't talk down to them like that.

Posted by: Brad S at September 17, 2006 1:03 AM

Then his problem isn't with increased spending and whern he accuses other Repoublicans of being unprincipled he's simply being a cretin.

Posted by: oj at September 17, 2006 8:54 AM

That's right Orrin Judd. America now faces our greatest threat ever. That is why it is so reassuring to hear that you understand the nature of the threat and what America must do to protect itself. Of course if it takes spending trillions we don't have then it will be up to future generations to be just as patriotic as we are and of course they will willingly sacrifice for the actions we take today. After all we are already sacrificing so much now. Even after all those tax cuts we still pay some taxes. An incredible burden on a true patriot. And of course those future generations will realize that we all did our best to fight Islamofascism and joined the armed forces when the call came. All those stories about recruiters lowering their standards and not meeting their quotas are obviously liberal propaganda. Our future generations will also marvel at our current level of sacrifice in consuming less gas in order to not send billions to the Islamofascis regimes like Saudi Arabia and Iran and our selfless desire to donate any excess funds we may have to the war cause, as our glorious leader has called on us to do.

If our future generations are left paying for this struggle for civilization, is that any more than we ourselves were forced to sacrifice?

Posted by: Paul at September 17, 2006 10:51 AM


We spent trillions we didn't have to win the Cold War and it wasn't much of a burden. The war against Islamofascism is too much of a walkover to be that costly and has required no sacrifice.

Posted by: oj at September 17, 2006 4:58 PM

Having a President who promises endless war is just like being married to a drug addict: no amount of money you give them will ever be enough.

Already the immediate costs of the war are five to ten times the initial estimates and the true costs to America will be in the $1 to $2 trillion range, particularly if you take into account the long range costs of caring for the many thousands of American soldiers crippled, paralyzed, missing limbs or with head injuries, who will require medical treatment for the rest of their lives.

(And if the calculus were allowed to include the human costs it would be far, far, greater -- how much would you pay not to live in a wheelchair or a respirator?)

Worse, this vast outlay of financial and human capital has actually achieved a negative result. I would never have believed that this was possible but Iraq is far worse off than it was under Saddam Hussain. Your average Iraqi has a far greater chance of a violent death now than at any time under Hussain. Where he feared the secret police, he now fears being arrested in the night by Americans to vanish forever into a secret prison somewhere in the world. Essential services like water and electricity are intermittent; even gasoline is expensive and hard to find, in this patroleum-rich country.

The condition of Iraq is piteous; the bill for the war is far greater than planned; both worsen every day. To stay the course is madness.

The United States needs to leave Iraq as soon as is feasible, feasible given that Iraq is so badly broken that civil war would consume it in hours if the US left immediately. In an honorable society, the President would personally apologize to the people of Iraq and of the world for his terrible mistakes and lies to build his war that took the lives of so many people and crippled a nation.

The new conservative movement spent a generation and broke the country of Iraq with a war based on lies -- and now you want *more* money to extend that mad war? Get real. Get stuffed.

Posted by: Tom Ritchford at September 17, 2006 5:58 PM

$2 Trillion dollars is trivial in a $13 Trillion economy when it buys the liberalization of the Middle East and gets rid of the final ism of the Long War. The human costs too are negligible, equivalent to just D-Day.

Posted by: oj at September 17, 2006 7:47 PM


No, he's arguing for the elimination of spending he considers wasteful -- there's a difference. Flake would suggest keeping the military spending and gutting something else. Just because a conservative argues against excessive spending doesn't mean he is obliged, out of fairness, to rail against military spending in addition to Department of Agriculture subsidies of Himalayan yak cheese.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 18, 2006 1:29 AM

Yes, if you oppose higher spending you're obliged to oppose the spending.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2006 7:26 AM


No, "wasteful" spending. I promise you that Mr. Flake doesn't want to cut military spending in any serious way, and he probably has never said otherwise.

The article notes that non-security discretionary spending increases have been getting smaller since 2002, and are projected to be .5% this year. I'm sure that's the kind of spending Flake is talking about, which raises the matter of what else he would like to cut. That line of inquiry is much more valid than attacking him for some opinion he doesn't hold.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at September 18, 2006 8:17 PM

Yes, I'm well aware he isn't serious about cutting the increased spending of the past few years.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2006 8:25 PM