Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dear George

Dear George,

I trust that I can call you George, since we’ve been through so much together, right from the start. I was there at Jim Nussle’s barbecue in Amana where you first declared your candidacy for president. (You probably remember me. We shook hands.) I gave you the benefit of the doubt when you went to war to topple Saddam Hussein. (At which you did succeed, lest we forget.) I voted for you enthusiastically in 2000, then reluctantly, holding my nose, in 2004. But still, I voted for you twice George.

Since we’ve been buds for so long, I feel I need to tell you something that might be awkward coming from someone else: the fact that your recent veto of the bill expanding the SCHIP “children’s” healthcare program makes you look like a complete hypocrite.

Don’t get me wrong George, I fully support your veto of this massive expansion of the federal nanny-state. It’s just that your justification for vetoing it, that it is too expensive, seems strange given the last seven years of your administration.

You and the Republican Congress increased federal spending by 33%, twice the rate that it grew under Bill Clinton. If you didn’t have the money, it didn’t matter because, in the words of your V.P., “deficits don’t matter.” You guys once dumped $25 billion of additional, unneeded pork projects into a single transportation bill. You even started the new Medicare drug program which will cost 2 Trillion dollars over the next two decades. But the Democrats’ SCHIP expansion, which would cost an additional $35 billion over 5 years, is too expensive? Your new found principals as a born-again fiscal conservative seem odd since they only surface when it’s the “other” party handing you the big spending bills.

You could say that you vetoed the bill because it’s unconstitutional. You could point out that the Constitution only authorizes a handful of powers to the federal government and that funding healthcare isn’t one of them. But then, the Constitution doesn’t grant the federal government power to meddle in local education (like with “No Child Left Behind”) or to treat every petty street-crime as a federal offence (like with “Project Safe Neighborhoods”) or to implement a host of other programs and laws that you and the Republican Congress either passed or made no attempt to abolish. So I guess that line of reasoning won’t hold water either.

You rightly pointed out that the SCHIP expansion by the Democrats is a step “toward their goal of government-run health care for every American.” But you yourself want to expand the program, just not by as much as they do. So are steps toward government-run healthcare okay, as long as they’re baby steps? I fail to see the deep philosophical difference between expansion and “not quite as much” expansion. And wasn’t the aforementioned $2 Trillion government drug plan a big step toward “government-run health care for every American?” So that dog won’t hunt either, George.

So, there is no way in heck that your veto won’t make you look like a hypocrite. Your sudden aversion to the big-government excesses of the Democrats will always seem perplexing after spending years rubber stamping the big-government excesses of the Republicans. That’s what happens when a party abandons the key principals that distinguish it from another. Sorry George.

Warmest Regards,
Ben

1 comment:

Jim Durbin said...

Ben,

I wanted to send you an e-mail about an upcoming Iowa event, but don't see an e-mail. It's for the MySpace/MTV debates. If you're interested, shoot me a note a communitymanager@flektor-inc.com

An interesting point about SCHIP. I was just glad it didn't pass, but hadn't gone further than that.

I think we've all had to come to terms with the fact that W is not a fiscal conservative, and neither is most of the Republican party.

Which explains why they lose voters like you. I'm not ready to give up ship, but I don't identify myself as Republican, precisely because of nonsense like this. Soft steps toward socialism is merely delay, not defeat.