The Zentrist Guide To Fiscal Conservatism, Part Two

As you dear readers may recall, I expressed my belief that the GOP these days does not have a clue about what fiscal conservatism is really all about, talking about why we have a tax code that is just too darn complicated and that a simplified code would go a long way to addressing concerns that real fiscal conservatives have.

But then comes the spending side — and like the revenue side, real fiscal conservatives don’t see it the way the current incarnation of the GOP wants it to be.

A real fiscal conservative knows you can’t just balance the budget by cutting foreign aid and things such as funding for Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio — while there are arguments that can be made for whether or not the government should spend money on these things, real fiscal conservatives know that spending amounts to just a drop in the bucket.

A real fiscal conservative knows that plenty of military spending is excessive and outright wasteful — as in, those working in the Pentagon say they have enough to fill military needs but stuff is bought anyway just to pacify some defense contractor who says, “Well, if I’m paying taxes to the government, I better get something in return or else I’m gonna pull your election funding away, sucker!”

And a real fiscal conservative will tell you that, if you go to war, you have to pay for it and wars don’t “pay for themselves” as a defense contractor will tell you. Wars cost money and, in many past cases, the federal government raised taxes to pay for it. Even then, it didn’t always work, but the point is that wars really DON’T pay for themselves and you need a revenue stream to help fund the war effort.

And that ties in with what a conservative should really believe about war efforts — that they are about protecting your borders and not about running around trying to build nations the way we want them to be (but that’s another topic for another day).

Additionally, a fiscal conservative believes that federal regulatory processes should be streamlined so you get the most bang for your buck.

Which brings me to the point about regulations: It’s not that regulation itself is bad, it’s how you go about it that’s bad. Proper regulation should be effective, efficient and enforced regularly. Effective regulation gets to the cause and doesn’t just treat the symptoms, efficent regulation means you have just one agency overseeing and not having different agencies overlap just because a lobbyist wants it that way, and enforced regularly means that you punish anyone who violates the law the same way, to the point where these violators understand that THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.

Finally, when it comes to government spending in general, a fiscal conservative understands that there might be times in which the government needs to spend money to help pump life into the economy — but the fiscal conservative doesn’t believe that any old spending will do the trick. Spending needs to be targeted into areas in which it will truly keep the economic gears going and put people to work, rather than just throwing money at any old thing and hope for the best.

And when it comes to deficit spending, fiscal conservatives don’t have a problem with it from time to time — they just have a problem with it happening TOO MUCH. So, yes, real fiscal conservatives would tell you that Dick Cheney is full of it and that he and his cohorts didn’t have a damn clue about fiscal conservatism.

But, of course, this isn’t what we hear from the GOP and its punditry. We get the usual Extremely Stupid Pundit Narrative (ESPN again) that fiscal conservatism means “tax cuts are GOOD and government spending is EVIL and the rich know more about money than you do.”

And so it becomes too easy for those who don’t like fiscal conservatism to talk about how it doesn’t work.

The truth, though, is real fiscal conservatives don’t just want to gut Social Security and Medicare, slash taxes for the rich to rock-bottom levels or slash government spending just to make a political statement. They just want to take a smarter approach to addressing the federal budget

But, as The American Conservative would likely point out, the current GOP leadership is not capable of taking a smarter approach. And that’s where the problem lies.

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