I’ve been writing quite a bit lately about so-called “fiscal conservatives.”
These are the people who suggest that as long as you believe in lower taxes and constrained government spending, you are a “conservative.”
I’m here to tell you it’s not true.
I got a great e-mail from a reader recently who says an old man once told him: “A fiscal conservative is nothing more than a cheap liberal.”
That about sums it up for me.
I’m personally sick and tired of people who tell me the true mark of a conservative is how they view economics – that it doesn’t have anything to do with what we believe about national defense or how we view God and what He has to say to us about other issues like life and death, marriage, infanticide, abortion and America’s unique national heritage as described in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
This is not to suggest I don’t think economics is important. It’s just that it doesn’t define my moral life.
In fact, I have never met a “fiscal conservative” who was nearly as fiscally conservative as me. I am radically conservative when it comes to economic issues.
I actually believe “fiscal conservatism” is pretty much an oxymoron. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you will recognize that “fiscal conservatives” will be the first people to bail on fiscal conservatism – every time, like clockwork.
That is because “fiscal conservatives,” or those who call themselves “fiscal conservatives,” don’t really believe in much of anything other than materialism.
Because they have no higher authority than practical economics, they don’t really care about anything else.
Am I generalizing?
Yes, but to make a point.
Think of those who identify with the label “fiscal conservative.” Can you name a single one who is 100 percent consistent – even on economics?
You can’t do it. They don’t exist.
Only the people who have a broader worldview of what is ultimately right and wrong, defined by a belief in a Supreme Being who created and rules the universe, have any consistency in politics. For everyone else, situational ethics is the rule, or non-rule, of the day.
I tell you all this because we are headed for a clash with these people – a big one.
It has to do with raising the debt limit.
The “fiscal conservatives” are already drawing up what I call the plan of surrender on this critical issue. Every couple years, Congress has to approve raising the debt limit, or government will have to stop spending more make-believe money and passing off their bills to future generations.
That vote is coming up in March of this year.
You will be hearing “fiscal conservatives” telling you that we have to tie the raising of the debt limit to cuts in the budget. Why bother? How about just not raising the debt limit and force budget cuts that will be larger and more meaningful than any bipartisan consensus could ever achieve?
Raising the debt limit ensures just one thing – that the federal government will continue to increase the debt.
Not raising the debt limit ensures one thing – that the federal government cannot continue to increase the debt.
Which of these two outcomes is preferable?
I think the latter.
Furthermore, not raising the debt limit requires no bargaining at all. It can be done by the Republicans in the House – if they see the wisdom of this plan and stay unified.
Negotiating with the Democrats on cuts makes the Republicans culpable with their Democratic opponents on increasing the debt.
I understand the media will freak out at such a plan. I understand Republicans will be eviscerated for their stand. I understand this plan will need to be sold to the American people. But this is what they were elected in big numbers to do last November. And the people will reward them again in 2012 for this kind of principled stand.
Do I expect this to happen?
Sadly, I do not.
Because the so-called “fiscal conservatives” in the House aren’t really conservatives at all.