Gresham Barrett, the one member of the SC House delegation who voted against the bailout/rescue package Monday, voted for it Friday. He said that the plan, as it was initially formulated, was bad for taxpayers, irresponsible, etc etc. He’s said that he can accept the new plan because it includes market-based incentives. These two statements have nothing to do with each other.

I consider myself a confused libertarian, but one of the things I feel strongly about is having a balanced budget and not passing our costs on to a later time. To me, “fiscal conservative” is another word for being “financially responsible”. It isn’t just about lowering taxes (although that’s part of it). Instead, it’s acknowledging that every dime the government spends has to be paid for by either current or future tax money, and that paying for things with future tax money is irresponsible. It realizes that there is a definite economic cost to government spending and that it’s best to pay that cost up front.

Since Bush has held office, Republicans have shown that they are not fiscal conservatives. They’ve cut taxes, but kept spending about the same (or increased it); this is a horrible, horrible idea. It allows legislators to keep spending but delaying the cost for later; there’s nothing responsible about that. Gresham Barrett’s switch to vote for the bailout/rescue is a perfect example of putting admirable free-market principles ahead of being a “fiscal conservative”, passing a bill with some outrageous special interest tax credits that will make this bill cost much more than the original $700B he voted against.

This is one major reason I’ve switched parties; I simply can’t put up with self-avowed “fiscal conservatives” who make decisions to “buy now, pay later”.