Courtesy of a great publication I subscribe (and occasionally contribute content) to, the Patriot Post:
“Being a conservative Republican should be about more than abortion policy and the War on Terror. The [GOP presidential] candidates should have to tell voters whether they still believe in traditional principles of limited government, federalism and individual liberty.” — Michael Tanner
With that said, today I get into what I call “role of government“. The subject was an early “50 year plan” post, but a more succinct summary goes like this:
- The government should be as small as possible with limited tasks, those that cannot be done as well by the private sector or the market.
- The closer the government is to the people, the better and more responsive it is. The reason I prefer government that’s as close to the people as possible is that smaller government can more easily be proactive rather than reactive.
I’m lumping government spending in with this section, as spending cuts obviously reduce the role of government. But being a deficit hawk or slowing growth won’t rate as highly with me.
In this case, I decided to look just at GOP candidates for this section. Hell, it’s not like the Democrats would help themselves anyway as they favor nanny-statism. They forget the Reagan truism, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.‘ ”
Here’s what they have to say, starting this time with a link from Rudy Giuliani.
A balanced federal budget is a priority for our national economic health and long-term prosperity. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have fought for federal spending to provide for our national and homeland security, as directed by the U.S. Constitution, and funding increases in both of these arenas will be necessary in the future to keep our families safe and secure
Budgetary savings must be identified through efficiency reforms throughout the federal government. Furthermore, we must aggressively attack the creation and funding of duplicative federal programs, many of which simply do not perform but cost taxpayers millions of their hard-earned dollars. According to Office of Management and Budget, 28% of federal programs are either ineffective or have results that are not demonstrated. Reforming, combining or eliminating those programs remains among my highest legislative priorities.
John McCain gives his opinion on the topic here on his website.
Real conservatives have always supported low taxes and low spending.
But today, too many politicians and lobbyists are spending America into ruin. We are nine trillion dollars in debt as a nation. Our mounting government debt endangers the financial future of our children and grandchildren. If we don’t cut spending now, higher taxes and economic disaster will be in their future — and yours.
In addition, the Federal Reserve, our central bank, fosters runaway debt by increasing the money supply — making each dollar in your pocket worth less. The Fed is a private bank run by unelected officials who are not required to be open or accountable to “we the people.”
Worse, our economy and our very independence as a nation is increasingly in the hands of foreign governments such as China and Saudi Arabia, because their central banks also finance our runaway spending.
We cannot continue to allow private banks, wasteful agencies, lobbyists, corporations on welfare, and governments collecting foreign aid to dictate the size of our ballooning budget. We need a new method to prioritize our spending. It’s called the Constitution of the United States.
Mitt Romney wants to stop runaway spending too.
Tom Tancredo again does the .pdf link thing and the direct quote:
The federal government is in debt because it spends too much, not because it taxes people too little. Government spending is classified as either discretionary or mandatory. Discretionary spending includes funds for things like the military and is explicitly set by Congress on an annual basis. But the major culprit in ballooning budgets is mandatory spending for entitlement programs like medicare, expenditures which are determined by the number of beneficiaries. The only way to control the budget is to reform the entitlement programs that mandatory spending funds. Those decisions on how to allocate resources are as economically necessary as they are politically and ethically difficult.
Finally, Fred Thompson returns and on his blog looks at this subject through the lens of federalism.
Wow. In not looking at Democrats this time, I don’t feel like I need to take a shower afterward. But the reason I feature them is to show just how bad I think their alternatives are. So they will return for parts 11 and 12 tomorrow and Monday.
Since I wrote this somewhat in advance, I have to note that this post is timed to coincide with the start of the Ames Straw Poll, an event that will likely trim the GOP field as the bottomfeeders will likely conclude their quest is hopeless. Let’s see how the candidates in my field help themselves as 23 points are at stake.
Rudy Giuliani has a very solid idea of actions that need to be taken, including one excellent suggestions that I’ve talked about – a sunsetting provision for Federal programs. Also intriguing is the idea of separate capital and operating budgets, which occur in many states and municipalities. The only fly in the ointment is that many of his ideas will likely end up in court as the bureaucracy beast will fight after it’s cornered. That’s just a minor downgrade, and Rudy picks up a healthy 20 points.
Duncan Hunter also talks about limiting spending in non-defense areas, which is a good start, but doesn’t go as far as Rudy in the area of government reform. I’ll give Duncan 10 points for effort.
John McCain talks about ending pork-barrel spending, bringing transparency to earmarks, and an “obligation to future generations”. However, as he should be aware, Congress sets the budget and he shows no method to hold them in check, like a line-item veto or balanced budget amendment. I suppose for bringing up the subject he deserves a few points but nowhere near full credit – so I’ll give him three.
Ron Paul definitely shows his libertarian side with the things he talks about. While I think most of these actions are sound and necessary, I wish he defined the actions he’d undertake as President more completely – it’s still a bit vague about how he would get Congress and the entrenched special interests under rein. He goes farther than Hunter but not quite to the extent of Rudy Giuliani, so I’ll give him 17 points.
I like one thing Mitt Romney said on his site, it sums up the problem any incoming President will have with Congress:
“There’s no courage involved in spending more money. Drawing a line on spending is hard and fraught with criticism. When I vetoed $458 million of excessive spending in the budget this spring, I knew that community newspapers across the Commonwealth would decry my elimination of local pet projects. And, I knew that the Legislature would over ride most of my vetoes. In fact, they over rode all of them, to a chorus of community acclaim. But someone has to say no.”
Mitt has an understanding of the problem he’ll face, and he also talks quite a bit about his time in the private sector, not as a career politician. I think he deserves 15 points for the understanding of the problem, while at the same time appearing (to me) to be open to other solutions suggested by other candidates – because he ran a business.
Tom Tancredo is quite similar to Duncan Hunter in that he talks about reforming entitlements as a method of cutting spending but really doesn’t go into more specific detail – more like cutting entitlements as a goal, not a step. I’ll give him the same 10 points I gave Duncan Hunter.
As far as Fred Thompson’s treatise on federalism goes, it misses the target by just one tick as he says, about education, “It is appropriate for the federal government to provide funding and set goals for the state to meet in exchange for that funding.” No it’s not. Other than that, the man almost sounds like me and I’ll leap him into the running with 22 points. He may become a formidable candidate worth my support once he fleshes out some of the underlying issues he’s not gone into yet.
Like I said, no Democrats today, so they get a break from losing more points. And the GOP standings shuffle again, as leader Mike Huckabee missed this opportunity:
- Tom Tancredo, 50.5 points
- Rudy Giuliani, 48 points
- Mike Huckabee, 42 points
- Ron Paul, 32.5 points
- Duncan Hunter, 31 points
- Fred Thompson, 24 points
- Mitt Romney, 23 points
- Sam Brownback, 18.5 points
- John McCain, 6 points
- Tommy Thompson, -2.5 points
Only two issues to go, next up is border security and immigration, a 25 point installment.