- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 5, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION: (Part of our reinventing conservatism series)

What the presidency of Barack Obama so far has taught us is that conservatism may need some time to regain its breath before resuming the fight, but surely it does not need reinventing.

Turns out the time required for the rejuvenation of conservatism has been significantly reduced by the amazing run of big government solutions suggested by Mr. Obama and his aggressively liberal allies in the Congress.

Revise the entire health care-delivery system? Introduce a complex tax or trade scheme to clean the environment? Pass massive giveaway programs and buy a couple of automobile companies and banks?

Some of us were fearful during the last election that the conservative principles of smaller government and more individual opportunity were losing sway. We feared that people really did expect government to do more things for them. We fretted that the siren song of the liberals would prove melodious and compelling.

For my part, I thought long about the manner in which we would have to re-educate and remind the citizenry of the dangerous things associated with overpowerful and overreaching government. I feared that the relearning was going to be a long and painful process.

It appears that it will be painful but not nearly so long as we thought. Little did we know how far the crooners of those siren songs and their minions in the White House and Congress would go and how astonishingly quickly as well.

The introduction of extraordinarily expensive stimulus plans, massive new taxation in the name of investment in green things called “cap and trade,” topped off by an enormously expensive makeover of health care, quickly reminded taxpayers of the many costs and concerns involved in big government.

The seemingly simplest of the Nanny State ideas, “cash for clunkers” has within days of its commencement resulted in an explosion of miscalculation, insufficient funds and unintended consequences. Not surprisingly in view of the misunderstanding of consequences of the idea it is discovered that even more money will be required. No problem the president will use Troubled Asset Relief Program or stimulus funds or some other pocket of money to invent new incursions into economic freedoms. Also not surprisingly one of the government-owned banks will process the claims. How delightful to have a captive bank at the ready.

The Obama administration and his congressional allies already have set in motion that most insidious of tax increases: inflation. There are a very limited number of ways to pay for this orgy of spending and government growth: raise taxes, print money or grow your way out.

Raising taxes will preclude any short-term economic growth, so will inflation.

But there’s a “Who knew?” surprise buried under this pile of Obamaism: By raising taxes and ignoring the inflation that will be caused by his ill advised stimulus plans, “Professor” Obama has helped folks relearn the old conservative adage about there being no such thing as a free lunch, even if it means relearning it the hard way.

The good news in all of this is how quickly the American people seem to have recalled or relearned or recognized the costs of truly big, pervasive government. The costs are not just money but opportunity and growth as well. The early town hall meetings on health care reform seem to have gone badly for the medical experts in Congress.

Liberals have given us our “brand” back and so far we have accepted it graciously and wisely and used it to advantage. Some say that conservatism is simply the philosophy of “no.” But our first cause today is to do no harm and to prevent the harm that is imminent.

Can we prevail without having to suffer truly crushing inflation, without the job losses that cap and trade will inevitably bring and without the disruption and potentially devastating effects of a misguided experiment in government health care? That’s the $64 trillion question conservatism faces today - daunting, with hidden traps and dangers - but the time for our cause is clearly here.

David A. Norcross, a partner in the Blank Rome LLC law firm, is a member of the Republican National Committee from New Jersey and former RNC general counsel.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide