July 16, 2004

A contest between big spenders
Jeff Jacoby argues that the coming election presents a depressing choice for fiscal conservatives:  
In the Republicans' corner is George W. Bush, who presides over the most bloated federal budget in US history.  Bush's profligacy has left in tatters the traditional GOP claim to fiscal rectitude.  He has uncomplainingly signed into law every pork-stuffed appropriations bill sent to him by Congress.  He has flooded the government's books with red ink.  And he has embraced new schemes for draining the Treasury, including the largest expansion of the welfare state in decades -- the prescription-drug entitlement, which will cost, over the next decade, more than half a trillion dollars.
The Democratic standard-bearer has committed himself to dozens of costly campaign promises -- everything from expanded Amtrak service in rural areas to a new program for preventing childhood obesity to $50 billion in additional aid to the states.  According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, Kerry's budget proposals would add a breath-catching $226 billion to the federal budget in the first year of his presidency.  Over a four-year term, they would cost more than $621 billion -- a tab that would have to be paid either with steep new taxes, or by taking the government even more deeply into debt.    
The 2004 presidential race pits a big-spending Republican Tweedledee against a big-spending Democratic Tweedledum.  What's a fiscally responsible voter to do?