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The Man Who Brought You “Big Government Conservatives” Loves McConnell’s Capitulation

It’s so sad to see someone you admire lose all credibility serving as mouthpiece for the people who got us into this mess on our side.This was Fred Barnes on August 15, 2003, writing in the Wall Street Journal:

IS PRESIDENT BUSH really a conservative? When that question came up this summer, the White House went into crisis mode. Bush aides summoned several of Washington’s conservative journalists to a 6:30 a.m. breakfast at the White House to press the case for the president’s adherence to conservative principles. Aides outnumbered journalists. Other conservative writers and broadcasters were invited to luncheon sessions. They heard a similar spiel.The White House needn’t have bothered. The case for Bush’s conservatism is strong. Sure, some conservatives are upset because he has tolerated a surge in federal spending, downplayed swollen deficits, failed to use his veto, created a vast Department of Homeland Security, and fashioned an alliance of sorts with Teddy Kennedy on education and Medicare. But the real gripe is that Bush isn’t their kind of conventional conservative. Rather, he’s a big government conservative. This isn’t a description he or other prominent conservatives willingly embrace. It makes them sound as if they aren’t conservatives at all. But they are. They simply believe in using what would normally be seen as liberal means— activist government—for conservative ends. And they’re willing to spend more and increase the size of government in the process.Being a big government conservative doesn’t bring Bush close to being a moderate, much less a liberal. On most issues, his position is standard conservative: a pro-lifer who expects to sign a ban on partial birth abortion, he’s against stem-cell research and gun control, and has drawn the line at gay marriage. His judicial nominees are so uniformly conservative that liberals are furious.

This is Fred Barnes today:

Senate Republicans mounted a bold offensive today against President Obama’s effort to force them to accept a tax hike as part of a bipartisan agreement to raise the debt limit.The Republican plan would, in effect, end the talks at the White House on a deal. Obama has deftly exploited the talks to portray Republicans as willing to risk a government default on its debts rather than accede to a tax increase of $1 trillion or more.To counter Obama, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell unveiled legislation requiring the president to submit a series of three requests – now, in the fall, and next summer – to increase the debt ceiling.Each request would have to include spending cuts in excess of the amount of the increase in the limit on borrowing. If Congress rejected the cuts as insufficient by passing a “resolution of disapproval,” the president could send a new package of cuts or veto the resolution. Should his veto be sustained – at least 34 senators would be needed – the debt limit would rise with no cuts attached.

Passing the buck and blame to Obama may or may not be smart politics. It is very clearly not leadership. It is very clearly not sound policy. It is very clearly not the way to dig ourselves out of the fiscal hole we find ourselves it. It is big government. It is not conservative.

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