October 11, 2006 3:58PM

This is Progress?

The news of the incredible shrinking deficit is sure to be added to the list of accomplishments that Republican candidates — eager for any good news they can use to their advantage — will tout on the campaign trail.

Although the deficit is certainly smaller, it’s not because the White House and Congress suddenly have a newfound respect for spending discipline. Federal spending grew in excess of 7 percent this fiscal year. That’s faster than the expected growth in GDP of 6.5 percent. Besides, the federal budget is chomping on 20 percent of GDP. It consumed 18.5 percent of GDP when George W. Bush was inaugurated. And unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs continue to grow. Remind me again how this is progress?

Prediction: For the next few weeks, Republican candidates will be engaged in an attempt to persuade fiscally conservative voters to forget everything that annoyed them about the GOP’s rush to expand government and instead welcome a much larger federal budget simply because it’s closer to being balanced.

It’s more than enough to make you wonder whether the Republicans are really a party of smaller government anymore.