December 04, 2003,
Slowly at first, then all of a sudden, the GOP has devolved into the PIG: the Party of Increasing Government.
The former GOP secured the White House and Congress in January 2001 for the first time since 1953. Republicans nationwide excitedly awaited momentous change. Washington surely would do less as Americans kept more of their money and the freedom to enjoy it.
To their credit, President Bush and Congress cut taxes by $1.7 trillion over 10 years. They protected near-born children by banning partial-birth abortion, a quasi-infanticidal practice that Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and 16 other Democrats voted to prohibit. Bush withdrew America from the foolish Kyoto "global-warming" treaty and, since September 11, has shielded the nation from terrorism through myriad domestic and international policies including the ouster of pro-terrorist tyrannies in Kabul and Baghdad.
That said, the state advances on nearly every front. From steep spending curves to fresh benefit programs and encroaching protectionism, the PIG makes the Clinton administration resemble a gang of free-trading skinflints. Behold the PIG's mess:
On November 25, the PIG Congress adopted a Medicare drug benefit with a $2 trillion, 20-year cost, as the Congressional Budget Office forecasts. This 681-page bill will complicate further a program that already resembles a calculus final. This, the federal welfare state's largest expansion since 1965, accepts all beneficiaries, including 78 percent of seniors who already have prescription coverage.
This PIG-concocted universal entitlement foreshadows the grotesque spectacle of George Soros and Bill Gates Sr. qualifying for drugs subsidized by the cashiers at their pharmacies.
Under the PIG, non-defense spending has exploded like a Daisycutter. Between 2001 and 2004, the Cato Institute's Veronique de Rugy and Tad DeHaven report, real domestic discretionary outlays have blossomed 20.8 percent compared to 9.6 percent inflation and a 0.7 percent expenditure reduction in President Clinton's first three years. Bush's initial 35 months have witnessed a 23.4 percent real-outlay hike at the Interior Department, 56 percent at Labor and 60.8 percent at Education.
Is this the fault of a spendthrift Congress that hijacked Bush's prudent budgets? Not quite.
"By a very, very conservative estimate, Bush has requested over 98.5 percent of all the money that Congress has appropriated during his presidency," says John Berthoud, President of the National Taxpayers Union. "They're spending basically what he's asked for."
In a November 17 study titled "Grand Old Porkers," the House Appropriations Committee's Democratic staff documents PIG hypocrisy on pork-barrel spending. Despite stirring PIG speeches against home-district projects, the number and value of earmarked outlays in annual Labor-HHS-Education appropriations measures alone grew from zero each in 1995 to 1,857 earmarks worth $896 million in 2003.
Although the Constitution only lets Congress raise future legislatures' compensation, between January 1998 and January 2004, PIG Congresses will have hiked their own salaries six times, from $133,600 to $158,100. This 18.34 percent boost outpaces the 14.48 percent inflation rate from January 1998 through last October. Senators and representatives cynically evade the Constitution by dubbing these increases "cost of living adjustments."
On March 5, 2002, President Bush slapped 8 to 30 percent tariffs on steel imports. While the U.S. International Trade Commission concluded in September that these restrictions enriched American steel producers by $67.4 million, they cost steel consumers $601 million. The ITC blamed these tariffs for $386 million in lost paychecks among Americans who were fired thanks to PIG mercantilism.
Free-traders thought Bush's neo-protectionism died atop this economic scrap heap. But he still doesn't get it. On November 18, Bush imposed 7.5 percent annual-growth quotas on Chinese bras, evening gowns and bath robes. While these barriers may threaten few U.S. jobs, they will raise prices, just as Bush's 27 percent Canadian-lumber duties lift average-home costs at least $1,000 and smack with a 2-by-4 the NAFTA Treaty that President Clinton steered through Congress in 1993.
Even more idiotically, only China can help America tranquilize North Korea, a trigger-happy, nuclear-tipped member of the Axis of Evil. Why on Earth is Bush poking chopsticks in Beijing's eyes (over lingerie, no less) as Kim Jong Il plays with plutonium?
While Bush is an otherwise stalwart defender of American interests abroad and a staunch supply-sider at home, he seems to believe strongly in little else. He could not wait to sign virtually any Medicare bill. "My pen is ready," Bush announced in August, fueling a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade of legislative excesses. Meanwhile, in their first three years, Ronald Reagan vetoed 22 bills, George Bush Sr., 25 and Clinton 11. G.W. Bush has not used his veto pen. Not a single time. Never.
For their part, Democrats favor the ever-expanding state. That's their job. They love big government and toil diligently to change America along the misguided lines they openly advocate.
The PIG, in contrast, campaigns as the children of Ronald Reagan, then governs as the heirs of Lyndon Johnson. They routinely betray their principles and bend to pressure from the left. With rare and honorable exceptions, their reservoirs of courage are down to vapors. In many more ways too painful to relate, the PIG has surrendered the core, limited-government distinction that once differentiated the GOP from Democrats.
Thanks a trillion, guys.
Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service.