Self-interested Congressional Republicans need to wake up to first principles and their own political future, and they need to heed the words of John Fund in today’s Opinion Journal:
It’s fitting that Rep. Tom DeLay is returning to his seat on the Appropriations Committee now that he is gone for good as House majority leader. It was his years serving in that “favor factory” that gradually turned him into a purveyor of pork who last fall claimed there was no more budget fat to cut. His departure gives Republicans a chance to return to first principles. If they don’t, they may face a political drubbing.
Many Republicans have forgotten that as government grows, its increased power to grant favors or inflict pain attracts more people who would abuse the system. Sen. John McCain once told me that “the best long-term answer to corruption is a smaller government.” Indeed, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff observed a decade ago, “More money available from government is blood in the water for sharks.” He proved to be one hungry shark.
If the GOP response to the Abramoff scandal is merely to enact “lobbying reforms,” the party will skirt the problem that underlies the corruption: runaway spending. “The 2001-2005 period marks the transformation of the Republican party from its traditional role as a win-or-lose guardian of limited government to that of a majority government party just as comfortable with big government as the Democrats, only with different spending priorities,” says Chris DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute.
That’s dangerous ground, given that the GOP base still believes in smaller government. Mr. Abramoff steered campaign cash to and hired staffers from members of both parties. But in 1994, after 350 members of both parties had been tarred by the House bank scandal, it was Republicans who were able to exploit it because Democrats controlled Congress.
Memo to the GOP:
… These would make a good start, anyway…