Responsible Budgeting v. Big Government Conservatives

Mark Kleiman reads David Brooks and explodes:

David, it’s not a matter of “not fully coherent” or lack of an “unorthodox management style”: its that every single thing his administration has turned its hand to, except lying to win elections, it’s trashed! Bush and his people suck at vision, suck at making reasonable plans, suck at implementation, suck at planning, suck at intelligence and predicting, and suck at leadership. Cutting taxes and spending like a drunken sailor isn’t some new kind of conservatism, it’s an old kind of lunatic irresponsibility, the sort of thing the Bavarians put Ludwig in a soft room for. Sending the army and marines off undermanned and ill-equipped to be wrecked in the desert because Cheney had a pole up his rear end about Iraq isn’t a shining new conservatism, it’s criminal negligence. Stuffing the only government we have, and now the Supreme Court, with people who can’t get through a day on their new jobs without spectacular blunders isn’t a lack of unorthodox management, it’s plain old really bad management! Farm bill, steel bill, FEMA, socialsecurityAbramoffMiersToraBoraonandonandon, a tornado of bad ideas and botches.

It seems Brooks has dusted off the Fred Barnes oxymoron about Bush being a big government conservative. Brooks and Barnes must ascribe to the free lunch view taught at National Review University – that view being we can have more government spending and lower tax rates too. Mark Thoma skipped that lecture preferring to attend the latest lecture from Paul Krugman.

Fiscal conservatives might prefer the comments from Senator Mark Pryor:

Pryor said Congress and the Bush administration must return to an era of “responsible budgeting” and be less inclined to advocate tax cuts for special interests as a remedy for economic ills. “We simply must do a better job of putting the needs of all Americans over the wants of a privileged few,” the senator said.

What does responsible budgeting mean? What it does not mean is the tendency of the DeLay Republicans to shortchange education, health care, or assistance for the poor in order to fund more pork barrel spending. As Alice Rivlin said last year – we should spend smarter, not more. Responsible budgeting also means that we cease dumping huge deferred tax liabilities on our kids.

Update: Michael O’Hare sent me a nice email saying the “blame” for the rant at Mark Kleiman’s blog should go to him. Actually, I need to give Michael the credit for this high quality rant.