Fiscally Full of S#!t

People hate being labeled. Or at least being labelled by others. Every one of us bristles when we are summarized within restricting parameters, especially when those parameters are defined by someone from the “other side.”

Yesterday I was called a “far left liberal.”

I countered, “Far left of what? I just try to be right.” (pun intended)

I prefer to categorize myself, thank you very much.

We often create broader categories to define ourselves and one another, perhaps, as an answer to our aversion to being ideologically pidgeon-holed.

“Left of moderate,” or “Moderate-Right,” are bandied about with regularity, but the most common it seems is “I’m socially liberal but fiscally conservative.”

Even the great Chair Whisperer himself, Clint Eastwood, labels himself that way.  Several conservatives that I converse with call themselves “socially liberal” while being “fiscally conservative.”

Basically, what that means, I think, is that they don’t care whether or not gay people get married, but when it comes to finances they are ultra conservative.

When it comes to voting, however, they are conservatives across the board.  Social issues, like gay marriage, civil rights, health care, environmental policies, consumer protection, workers benefits; go out the window at chad-punching time.  When it comes down to choosing ethics or the bottom line, socially-liberal/fiscal-conservatives vote Republican all the way.

Fiscal conservatism means the avoidance of deficit spending and the overall reduction of government spending and national debt, as well as ensuring a balanced budget.  Nothing ignoble about any of that.

Yet…. fiscal conservatives voted twice for George W. Bush who increased deficit spending by reducing revenue while entering two expensive wars.  He spent like a drunken sailor (Clint’s term, not mine), even increasing social spending with ill-fated programs like No Child Left Behind and his Prescription Drug program.  He was the exact opposite of a fiscal conservative.

But…do you know who WAS fiscally conservative?

Bill Clinton, who balanced the budget and created a budget surplus. 

The fiscal conservatives, however, hated him.  “He was a stain on Washington” was the oft quoted refrain.  I thoroughly enjoy revisionists that I encounter today who say, “I liked Clinton.  I did well under Clinton.”

You HATED Bill Clinton! Tens and tens of millions of tax payer dollars were spent to topple Clinton!  It was the beginning of hate-media.

Strap in or strap on for this one, but Federal government did not grow under President Obama. In fact, there were less federal workers under Obama than under many past administrations. The “increased spending” under Obama is the result of policies in place regardless of who is President, and discretionary spending, relative to previous presidents, actually rose the slowest under Obama. The truth is that our National Debt and Deficit has less to do with increased spending than with lowered revenues. 35 years of tax cuts, largely for the wealthy, saw to that.

Which begs for us to go back to the beginning of organized, government-led, Trickle Down Economics. Back to President Ronald Reagan who is considered in the history of conservatism to be the Fiscal Messiah.

But, was he?

Nope.

By reducing overall revenue by 1% yet increasing military spending 40% the United States had to borrow heavily both domestically and abroad.  He raised the national debt from just under $1 trillion to nearly $3 trillion; percentage-wise, the largest increase in history.  The United States went from being a Creditor to a Debtor Nation for the first time.  You could almost say he invented deficit spending.

Yet…the fiscal conservatives loved him and his name is spoken more reverently today than it was even then.

Between the fiscally unsound Reagan and the fiscally responsible Clinton there was George HW Bush.

The conservatives didn’t like him very much and bailed on him when he ran against Clinton.  I don’t think they ever forgave him for going toe to toe with Reagan during the 1980 primaries and coined “Voodoo Economics” to define Reagan’s Trickle Down version of Supply Side theory.  But, GHWB was a true fiscal conservative.  He tried to curb Reagan’s deficits by cutting government spending without raising taxes.  His failure was due to a Democratic Congress that he could not cajole into believing his formula.

This is when I like to start sewing things up by reaching some sort of conclusion.  I have one, but I’m reluctant to share it.  I don’t want to label people with my own restrictive parameters.

Here goes anyway….

Fiscal Conservatism is an honorable, logical, sensible, and viable economic discipline. No resource, including money, is unlimited; we should all weigh priorities before making budgets. Fiscal Conservatives, however, are historically, full of…

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