A candid word from liberal Mickey Kaus about a major effect of the Pelosi-Reid-Obama Generational Theft Act:
But the reference to liberalism isn’t irrelevant, because the now-undermined welfare reform was the key to rebuilding confidence in (liberal) affirmative government. As Bill Clinton recognized, voters may well have been willing to let government spend, but they didn’t trust old style liberals not to spend in actively destructive ways, like subsidizing an isolated underclass of non-working single mothers with a no-strings cash dole. It’s a 75-25 values issue. Work yes. Welfare no. Even if welfare spending was only a tiny portion of the liberals’ spending agenda, it poisoned the rest of it. Only when Clinton’s New Democrats put an ostentatious “time limit” on welfare and required work did they regain the public confidence necessary to increase other kinds of spending (on work-related poverty-fighting benefits like the Earned Income Tax Credit, day care and Social Security, for example.)
A reemerging “welfare” issue is a potential killer, in other words, for Obama’s big remaining plans, especially health care. If Dems seem determined to reinstate dependency–or at the least blind to the dangers of dependency–voters aren’t going to trust them to spend trillions on universal health insurance and fortified pensions. It’s hard to believe Obama doesn’t realize this.
Even Kaus gets that his side has overreached with this destructive bill, though for reasons less dramatic than I and millions of other Americans believe.
But if serious fiscal conservatives are serious about restoring a Republican majority, they will have to do much better than say: “If you return us to power, we’ll stop the Democrats! And behave better!” (It appears that, by this calculus, new RNC chairman Michael Steele already is moving the party back in the right direction, though it’s still early.)
So are Republicans going to not only keep an eye on political opportunities, but also use the time out of power wisely and productively? We’ll have to wait and see. While the Congressional Republican caucus look to continue exercising its newfound backbone, a lot of the hard work will be done by their counterparts at the state level. State legislators making rousing speeches at anti-“stimulus” rallies, like the one here in Denver on Tuesday, or governors just saying NO (H/T Gateway Pundit) to the bloated federal largesse: These are positive, healthy signs, but only the beginnings of restoring trust.
We not only watch carefully, but also work actively in support of those who show a true commitment to liberty, limited government, and fiscal responsibility.