Government Spending

Reason.tv: 3 Reasons This Election Didn't Change a Thing!

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There's no question that the Republicans painted the map red during the 2010 midterm elections, picking up control of the House of Representatives, gaining share in the Senate, and picking up a good chunk of statehouses seemingly all over the place.

The Republicans won big due to huge voter displeasure with the state of the economy, President Obama's policies of the past two years, and (especially) the Democrat-controlled Congress. But does the shift in power matter? Here's three reasons the GOP wave won't change a goddamn thing:

1. We're still on the fast track to the poor house. When the GOP ran the show with George W. Bush, they spent like drunken sailors (apologies to drunken sailors). Things have only gotten worse since 2008 but the GOP's much-ballyhooed (at least by themselves) Pledge to America only pledges to spend the least bit less than the Dems.

Click on the image to get more details compiled by Mercatus Center analysts Veronique de Rugy (also a Reason columnist) and Jakina Debnam. The Pledge conspicuously exempted defense and entitlements from spending cuts, thereby taking more than 60 percent of outlays off the table and making it impossible to seriously cut spending. Triumphant GOP spokespeople sounded the same message on Election Day, generally refusing to offer up specifics about spending cuts.

2. Nobody's talking about foreign policy and ending the warfare state. In constant dollars, defense spending has basically doubled since 2000 and is projected to stay at levels hundreds of billions of dollars above what it was before the Cold War ended. Perhaps more important, neither President Obama nor his party's leadership has even begun a meaningful conversation about foreign policy. The same goes for the Republicans, who constantly exempt defense spending, one of the very largest annual items in the federal budget, from serious scrutiny, much less significant cuts. President Obama is following George W. Bush's painfully slow withdrawal plan from Iraq and has tripled down in Afghanistan without clarifying U.S. goals and leaving lots of wiggle room when it comes to supposed deadlines for leaving. The only folks more hellbent on maintaining an unexamined status quo than the president are the Republicans.

3. The only people worse than liberals on social issues are conservatives. President Obama and the Democrats spent more time hectoring Americans to eat our vegetables than they did repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," pushing immigration reform, or ending drug prohibition. But don't look for the new crew in D.C. or your state capitol to push social tolerance anytime soon. If anything—and despite all the limited-government rhetoric – they'll be even worse when it comes to expanding individual autonomy and increasing lifestyle choice.

The one up side to the midterms? Only that we don't have to worry about another election for two woefully short years.

"3 Reasons This Election Didn't Change a Thing!" is written and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie (who also hosts).

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