FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY:
Bush Hopes to Expand the Size and Scope of Big Government
William Redpath Provides Libertarian Response to the State of the Union Address
On Tuesday, January 23, President Bush delivered his 2007 State of the Union Address. While there were some things in the speech that were, on the whole, good, on most matters the President continued to show no appreciation for the concept of limited (particularly federal) government, and he continues to conflate the ideas of national defense and security with his stubborn continuation of his Administration’s tragic war of choice in Iraq.
On the positive side, the President's health care proposal to allow replace an unlimited employer health care expense deduction with standard deductions for individuals, while not perfect, is a large step in the badly needed direction of breaking the link between employment and health insurance in this nation. It would stop federal tax discrimination against people who are not covered by employer-provided insurance. It would, as the President said, make health care more affordable for more Americans.
Unfortunately, the President's proposal calls for a minimal tax increase for those Americans with the most expensive of insurance plans. Beyond this, various health care reforms should be the province of state and local governments. The federal government should not be involved; there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution granting it license for such involvement. Among this nation's political parties, only the Libertarian Party takes the Constitution and its limited powers for the federal government seriously.
Other than that, the President's innocuous platitudes were the highlights of the rest of his speech.
The President touched on another of his unpopular and failing big government solutions: No Child Left Behind. Not so very long ago, the Republican Platform called for the elimination of the federal Department of Education. Today, Republicans and Democrats compete over which big government programs and mandates can be forced on state and local governments. No Child Left Behind should not be reauthorized. Bush said he wants children in failing schools to have additional options. We agree, but that should be left to state and local governments to hash out. The Libertarian Party calls for an end to any federal government involvement in education, including the cessation of all grants to state and local governments and what the Republican Party platform called until the year 2000 - the closure of the federal Department of Education.
The President applied his big government philosophy to our energy policy, too. Instead of trusting you and me to determine what sort of fuel economy we prefer in our private vehicles, the President is attempting to force new fuel economy standards on automobile manufacturers. Additionally, he is tampering with the free market in order to reach the probably unachievable goal of "energy independence." If we want the lowest possible energy prices and alternative energy sources to develop, we need to get government out of the energy business and let the free market work. Unfortunately, the President is disregarding the history that made America the great nation she is with his approach of intervention and regulation.
The President indicated that he intends to exercise some spending restraint and to balance the budget. He also suggested reforms that are supposed to prevent billions of taxpayer dollars from being spent on earmarks. Those are fine words, but we should look at his actions, too. Since Bush has been in office, the Republicans have spent more, even discounting for terror and war related expenses, than even the Democrats had spent. And the President can't blame Congress; he never once vetoed a Republican bill for excessive spending.
If he is truly opposed to earmarks, he could have used his veto power, but he didn't. If a Libertarian president had been handed such bills, they would have gone, unsigned, back to the Hill with a simple message attached: For the sake of the American people, become financially responsible now. The President and the GOP-controlled Congress had their chance to show fiscal restraint, and they badly failed the American people.
Even after the criticism he has taken for his Iraq Surge Strategy from some of his strongest supporters, the President continued to promote his plan that places many of our citizens in harm's way. Clearly, the primary reason America rejected the Republicans this past November is because of the President’s failed policy in Iraq. But for the U.S. starting this unwise war, the President would not have to ask for 92,000 additional U.S. soldiers, as well as a Civilian Reserve Corps.
When Bush stated that we need to take the war to the enemy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to stand and applaud. The question we need to ask ourselves is what specific enemy we need to pursue for the purpose of national security.
There has been a great deal of controversy about so-called facts presented by the White House about the initial cause for military action in Iraq; it is time we look at some real facts. We are indeed nation building. We are playing policeman in a civil war. We attacked Iraq and triggered what is clearly a civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people in Iraq, all without a correct and coherent explanation of what our purpose and goals are from the Bush Administration. We have chased non-existent weapons of mass destruction instead of focusing on the terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 Americans on 9/11. We are creating more terrorists on a daily basis because of our intervention in Iraq. In short, we went after the wrong bad guys and are now stuck in the middle of someone else's civil war.
Bush said that we need to "win" in Iraq, but he has never clearly articulated what a "win" would be. That is the least he owes the American people. The most successful outcome Americans can hope for is to withdraw from Iraq as quickly as is safely possible for our troops, before too many more of our sons and daughters are added to the ever growing list of casualties.
We, in the Libertarian Party, still think there is hope for the advocates of limited government. According to an ABC News report, the President has only kept one third of the promises he made in his 2006 State of the Union address. Bush’s current approval ratings are lower than for any U.S. president the day before a State of the Union Address since President Richard Nixon in 1974. Hopefully, he will fail in turning his mostly big government solutions into public policy.
Democrats tend to throw expensive big government solutions at health care and education, so it seems likely that the two older parties, acting in concert, will only continue their longstanding trend of making government bigger, less responsive and more expensive.
In the eighties and nineties, Republicans ran on limited government platforms. Voters rightly rejected many of these Republicans last November for breaking their promises. But, in handing both Houses of Congress to the Democrats, voters weren’t screaming for radical liberal change, but for some semblance of government restraint - in terms federal fiscal policy, and ending America’s military involvement in Iraq.
But, given the Democrats' multi-decade proclivity for larger and more expensive government, casting one's lot with them is not the answer. There is but one common-sense political solution remaining. If you are as upset as I am about the President’s plan to continue to increase our military involvement in Iraq and the size of government, I ask you to please join and become involved with the Libertarian Party, the only U.S. political party that is committed to - or even simply respects - the concept of limited government and freedom for all individuals in the United States.