The big question about Republicans in this election has been whether they have truly reformed themselves after their spending binge during the last decade. Will they prove willing and able to stop the debt-fueled car still speeding toward disaster (you know how President Obama loves his car-economy metaphors), or will they be nothing more than a speed bump?
We’ll get part of the answer after the election when we see the urgency with which Republicans focus on the budget, as opposed to issuing subpoenas to administration officials. Forget “airy-fairy beyond-the-blue-horizon” projections about a fiscal crisis looming mid-century, writes the incomparable Mark Steyn. There’s no time to waste:
The existential questions for America loom not decades hence but right now. We face not genteel Euro-style decline cushioned by America, but something faster, wrenching and far more convulsive — with nobody to cushion it.
We know American government is living beyond America’s means. What’s more interesting is whether it’s living beyond the world’s. Historically, foreign official holdings of US Treasury securities have been less than five per cent of the rest of the planet’s GDP. By 2009, they were up to seven per cent. Obama-sized budgets depend on foreign holdings rising to about 20 per cent of the rest of the planet’s GDP.
There is no evidence that the world will be willing to do that. And, even if there was, the net effect would merely be to accelerate the remorseless transfer of wealth to our enemies. …
When government spends on the scale Washington’s got used to, that’s not a spending issue, it’s a moral one. There’s nothing virtuous about “caring” “compassionate” “progressives” being caring and compassionate and progressive with money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born. That’s what “fiscal conservatives” often miss: This isn’t a green-eyeshade issue. Increasing dependency, disincentivizing self-reliance, absolving the citizenry from responsibility for their actions: The multitrillion-dollar debt catastrophe is not the problem but merely the symptom. It’s not just about balancing the books, but about something more basic and profound.
In a two-party system, you have to work with what’s available. In America, one party is openly committed to driving the nation off the cliff, and the other party is full of guys content to go along for the ride as long as we shift down to third gear. That’s no longer enough of a choice. If your candidate isn’t committed to fewer government agencies with fewer employees on lower rates of pay, he’s part of the problem. This is the last chance for the GOP to restore its credentials. If it blows it, all bets are off for 2012.
(The “go along for the ride” line is perfect, given that the same day as Steyn posted his essay — which you should read in full — Obama said, “We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.”)
The president doesn’t get it, and never has. Lord help us if the GOP doesn’t, either.