March 8, 2009

A PLAGUE ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES:

Despite all the fighting, both parties favor big government in some way (STEVEN THOMMA, 3/08/09, MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS)

Strip away the political finger-pointing over President Barack Obama's proposed budget and the fight boils down to a clash of values. Both major parties are really for big government -- just big in different places.

Republicans say they're outraged that Obama would "borrow and spend" his way to a new behemoth government. But they borrowed and spent their way through the 1980s and the current decade. And they love big government -- when it's at the Pentagon.

Democrats from Obama on down insist that they don't like big government, that they're just forced into a temporary spending spree by the recession. But Democrats love big government as well, when it's for social programs such as universal health care.

"The basic difference between Democrats and Republicans in recent decades is which aspect of government spending they prefer," said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. "With the Republicans, it's defense. With the Democrats, it's education, environment, health care, etc."


There's ample room for one of the GOP presidential contenders to stake out a Ross Perot type position: cut defense to a normal sub-2% of GDP, get rid of a bunch of cabinet departments, end agriculture subsidies, etc. and "freeze" the budget. You get points for the "courage" to gore your own ox and folks will be plenty tired of the government spending so much money.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2009 7:47 AM
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