Fool's Gold

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Ramesh Ponnuru argues that limited-government types dissatisfied with Bush's enormous expansion of the federal government and fiscal deficits are being, well, "dumb."

The dumb case against Bush regards him as having betrayed the historic Republican commitment to keep spending down from year to year. This history stretches all the way back to January 1995, and all the way forward until the fall of 1996. But the dumb case against Bush doesn't pause to acknowledge that Reagan increased spending, too, especially in a first term of recession and defense build-up, or that the Gingrich Congress cut a big-spending budget deal with Clinton in 1997. The case, in its dumbest form, assumes that anti-spenders can, by denying Bush reelection, cause Republicans to return to the true path. Maybe this would even make sense — if it were not the case that much of the country likes increased federal spending just fine, and far more people like than dislike increased spending for any given program. That's why spending has gone up, after all, and not just under this president.