Unfortunately for Congressmen Boehner, Burton, and all their fellow Republicans, the House GOP lost all moral credibility on this issue last October, when, after heroically voting down President Bush's bailout bill in the face of withering lobbying from special interests and their own party leadership, they did an about-face after the Senate passed a similar measure. Congressman Burton voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, but many of his fellow Republicans in the House, including Congressman Boehner, succumbed to pressure from the Bush administration and voted for the bill the second time around. As a result, American taxpayers were saddled with more than $700 billion in bailout funds for ailing banks and other financial institutions — funds that, so far, have shown little promise of having the promised effect.
Republicans in the House are showing a united front against the latest misbegotten bailout boondoggle, but only because the bill's sponsors are Democrats. And whereas the Bush stimulus package was primarily socialism for the financial sector, the new bill contemplates ladling out taxpayer monies to just about anybody with a begging-bowl.
The House bill, shorn of a couple of the more controversial line items, including earmarks for family planning and resodding the National Mall, provides multibillion-dollar bon-bons for Medicaid, highway construction and repair, housing weatherization, schools, and countless other projects. The Senate, meanwhile, is already working on an even more expensive version of the bill. The temporary short-term benefits of the much-ballyhooed tax relief provisions notwithstanding, the long-term effects — hundreds of billions of dollars in new debt that taxpayers yet unborn will have to service — may well prove to be the proverbial straw that breaks the back of the taxpaying body politic.
We have come to such a tragic pass because neither party — excepting a few heroic individuals like Congressman Ron Paul — has shown the moral courage, for many decades, to address the real problem: too much government. While the Democrats argue for more government programs and higher taxes to fund them, the Republicans can do no more than propose lower taxes — while doing nothing to reverse, halt, or even slow the growth and cost of the federal government. Without reducing the size and cost of government, a reduction in taxes results in more deficit spending — and more inflation when the debt is monetized.
Now that the Republicans have been returned to the status of a clamoring minority, we can expect more vocal, principled opposition to government spending. But as their recent record as the majority party shows all too clearly, given the reins of power, they would likely behave little differently than Obama, Pelosi, and company are doing.
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