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"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran


The High Cost of Compassionate Conservatism

Tennessee Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr., is decrying Bush's reconstruction policy in Iraq. Ordinarily, such criticism would come as no surprise—but Mr. Duncan happens to be a Republican.

Why isn't this Republican toeing the party line? Why has he not jumped on board Bush's imperial bandwagon? Well, there are about 87 billion reasons.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the president's request for more money to fund his nation-building exercises in the Middle East. That includes $67 billion in military spending and an additional $20 billion for U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq. According to the president, that money would be used "to help rehabilitate that country, so that the people of that country can live a free and hopeful life."

That was too much for Congressman Duncan. In a recent statement, he said:
There is nothing conservative about the U.S. policy in Iraq.

Conservatives have never believed in massive foreign aid. Our occupation of Iraq has become the largest foreign aid program in the history of the world.

We are building or rebuilding thousands of Iraqi schools, giving free health care to Iraqi citizens, and even making back payments to the Iraqi military and Iraqi retirees.

Last week I read that we are sending 60,000 soccer balls there. Our Founding Fathers could not have foreseen this in their wildest dreams.
Indeed, the founders would be shocked by this orgiastic spending spree. Were they alive today, one could not help but wonder if a new version of the Declaration of Independence would be in the works.

As if the new hikes in wartime spending weren't enough, the current administration has already given us huge increases in domestic spending. In fact, when it comes to non-defense spending, George W. Bush makes Bill Clinton look like a conservative:
And since the Republicans control both houses of Congress, most of the president's proposals sail through unopposed. Education, farm subsidies, prescription drugs for seniors, the list goes on.

What surprises me is not that Bush and the GOP are engaged in a fiscal feeding frenzy; it is that there are so few conservatives out there who are willing to call them on it. I suppose with the 2004 election just around the corner they can't afford to be principled right now. After all, winning is everything, and they will stand behind Bush and his socialist policies come hell or high water.

The bottom line is that the growing cost of compassionate conservatism is enough to make even the most liberal advocates of the welfare state blush. We simply cannot continue spending as we have been—whether on domestic social programs or the "war" on terror.

Does being conservative mean throwing away our economic future? If so, then count me out. I don't think our nation can afford to become any more "conservative" than it already has.

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