President Bush says that he “chucked aside my free‐market principles” when faced with the current financial crisis. Well, duh!
The president said that he had no choice because he was “concerned that the credit freeze would cause us to be headed toward a depression greater than the Great Depression.” Even if one accepts that rather contestable premise, one is tempted to ask what caused him to chuck aside conservative and free market principles when he:
- Increased federal domestic discretionary spending (even before the bailout) faster than any president since Lyndon Johnson.
- Enacted the largest new entitlement program since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, an unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefit that could add as much as $11.2 trillion to the program’s unfunded liabilities;
- Dramatically increased federal control over local schools while increasing federal education spending by nearly 61 percent;
- Signed a campaign finance bill that greatly restricts freedom of speech, despite saying he believed it was unconstitutional;
- Authorized warrantless wiretapping and given vast new powers to law enforcement;
- Federalized airport security and created a new cabinet‐level Department of Homeland Security;
- Added roughly 7,000 pages of new federal regulations, bringing the cost of federal regulations to the economy to more than $1.1 trillion;
- Enacted a $1.5 billion program to promote marriage;
- Proposed a $1.7 billion initiative to develop a hydrogen‐powered car;
- Abandoned traditional conservative support for free trade by imposing tariffs and other import restrictions on steel and lumber;
- Expanded President Clinton’s national service program;
- Increased farm subsidies;
- Launched an array of new regulations on corporate governance and accounting; and
- Generally did more to centralize government power in the executive branch than any administration since Richard Nixon.
One begins to detect a trend.